134 Vehicles Just Crashed in a Deadly Pile-up in Japan

Over 100 drivers in northern Japan are waiting to be rescued in below-freezing temperatures.
January 19, 2021, 11:17am
A snowstorm in Japan disrupts transportation.
A snowstorm in Japan. For illustrative purposes only. Photo: JIJI PRESS / AFP

At least one man has died from a pile-up of more than 134 vehicles in the northern Japanese prefecture of Miyagi.

More than 8 people were seriously injured from the Tuesday crashes, according to Fuji TV. State police said that the pile-up was caused by a whiteout, when windblown snow reduced visibility to almost zero.

A Twitter user who goes by the name “Gameover” described driving in the weather condition as like “hiding in the clouds.”

About 100 vehicles remained stuck on the Tōhoku highway in Ōsaki City five hours after the noon pile-up, forming a kilometer-long crash site.

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Over 200 passengers were involved in the crashes, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said. Those who require medical care are being transported by local authorities to nearby hospitals. 

A blizzard in northern Japan reduces visibility to almost zero.

The whiteout on Tōhoku highway. Photo courtesy of Ai Matsukawa

Rescue teams have closed connecting highways to all traffic, and officials on site are providing drinking water, food, blankets and emergency toilets in temperatures as low as minus 4 degrees Celsius.

The Japan Meteorological Agency has reported high winds and a decrease in snowfall at the site of the crashes since this morning. 

Shortly before the accident, authorities reported record wind speeds, at 100 kilometers per hour, in the region.

Police have said blizzard-related car accidents are common in this area. The Tōhoku Expressway is situated among open fields, leaving very little to block dangerously high winds. 

The government has set up a liaison office at the prime minister’s crisis management center.

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