4 dead in snow-related accidents in Niigata, Yamagata, Hokkaido


Four people were killed in snow-related accidents in Niigata, Yamagata and Hokkaido on Monday and Tuesday.

In one case, a 66-year-old man was found dead in an upright position, buried in snow up to his shoulders next to his home in Shirataka, Yamagata Prefecture, on Monday night. Snow had accumulated nearly one story high, but none remained on the roof of the house which led police to believe that the man had been hit by a large amount of snow that had slid from the top of the roof.

Another case was reported also on Monday in Minamiunuma City, Niigata Prefecture. An 80-year-old man was found buried in a pile of snow in the rear garden of his home. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Police said he had apparently fallen from his roof while clearing snow.

A third death occurred in Obihiro City, Hokkaido, at around 3:30 p.m. Monday when a 68-year-old man fell from his roof as he was clearing snow. Police said the man's body slammed into a kerosene tank located next to the house inflicting fatal injuries to his head and other parts of his body.

In the fourth incident, an 85-year-old woman died on Tuesday night after she slipped and hit her head on the roof of her home while she was clearing snow. Police said the woman had tethered herself with a rope but when she slipped and hit her head, she went over the side and was found hanging by a neighbor.

Since early December, Fire and Disaster Management Agency and local police officials have been urging residents in areas where there is heavy snow to exercise caution when clearing snow from the roof and to beware of falling snow, but the death tally keeps rising from such accidents.

In a recent safety film released by the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster, researchers show the dangerous force of falling snow. In the video, a large amount of snow is dropped upon a car, leaving cracks and breaks in the vehicles windows, and showing the possible damage such accidents can have on the human body.

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Stupid, stupid, STUPID people! ALL dead due to clearing snow and falling off rooftops!! (well, the first was buried by it, but my guess is, since it was his own home, he was trying to clear the roof and it slid on him). How many deaths a year do you think it'll take to get these old codgers to listen to reason? And tethering a rope around your waist isn't going to do anything but what happened to the woman in the THIRD falling off the roof instance out of the four deaths!

Give them incentive to watch the videos and heed the warnings, otherwise they never will. Maybe offer free mochi -- but make sure you cut it up into small pieces, first.

RIP to those dead, and PLEASE for those thinking of climbing on the roof to clear snow or during a typhoon -- DON'T!

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Yesterday there was a report of a girl buried for an hour under slidung snow from an uncleared neighbours roof.

Both are dangerous and possible death traps.

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Stupid, stupid, STUPID people!

Yes, it' s not the safest thing to be doing. The alternative though is the roof collapsing on you when you're sleeping in bed or as It''s ME said getting buried by it when it comes off the roof in one great big slab!

Design of the houses is really the problem. Roofs should never be flat or low pitched in high snow areas.

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It"S ME: Not sure what your point is. I'm guessing that you are suggesting that NOT clearing off your roof is also dangerous. A) I agree, though there are ways of doing it where you do not die, but the old folks can't seem to figure that out. B) It's pretty much common sense to avoid playing in areas where there is the potential for snow to slide off a roof. Same with walking under eaves with long, dangerous icicles.

Vagabond: No argument on the design, or the extreme proximity of houses in Japan, but again there are ways of doing it where you don't fall off and kill yourself. I'll give you a simple example. When I was walking out in the rather heavy snow on the first of January I saw others doing the same, most with umbrellas (not me... I like the snow!). One older man and woman were walking together, both with separate umbrellas, and at one point the woman attempted to knock the snow off her umbrella, pointing it forward and hitting the inside with her hand. The snow slid off in front of and onto her and her husbands boots/shoes. No biggy, really, but WHY would you not hold it off to the side where the snow would go harmlessly off to said side? I ask this because, again, when some of these people get buried they are standing under an eaves and using a broom or something to knock the snow off a room (instead of climbing) and stand DIRECTLY under where it's going to fall. Even if a larger than expected amount slides off due to cohesion, you ought to think where to stand and what could happen. Granted the girl it"S ME mentions probably wasn't trying to clear the neighbour's roof, but it still happens like that. As for the climbing on the roof, get somebody who knows how to do it properly to help you if you don't have the money to hire people to do it. Obviously people know how.

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RIP to those dead.

A very generous sentiment after you just called them stupid.

You simply haven't got a clue about the amount of snow these people have to deal with.

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wipeout: "A very generous sentiment after you just called them stupid."

Well, they were stupid. Doesn't mean I think they should have died or that their deaths are not tragic.

"You simply haven't got a clue about the amount of snow these people have to deal with."

I most certainly do. I come from a land that gets just as much if not more snow. So there. But, hey, if you can find a way to ask the people who died what they would have done differently, I'm sure you'd hear them say, "I would have been more careful" at the very least. Which is to say, at the very least they should have been more careful. Until these types of people start exercising common sense, we'll hear a lot more of this type of death before too long, and next year, and next year, and the year after that, ad nauseum.

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Design of the houses is really the problem. Roofs should never be flat or low pitched in high snow areas.

Exactly. I don't understand it either, it can only be because of the need to maximise interior space. Old houses in high snowfall areas in Japan always had steeply angled roofs so that the snow could not accumulate.

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Poor old people, it's too bad someone couldn't have swept their roof off for them. It wasn't smart of them to climb up there and try it themselves, but it was either that or let all that tonnage just sit there, weighing down the roof. They really wouldn't have had much choice after a certain point but to at least try to sweep off the roof. It's the same thing that happens where I live now, when older people have heart attacks and die while shoveling snow. Yes, you can call it "stupid" and simplify the issue to a matter of personal decision-making, but there really should be more help for the older generations to deal with these sorts of issues. As for the shape of roofs nowadays, it's just cheaper and quicker to build them flat. I don't think it's a good idea in snow-heavy areas, and the older style looks cooler, but, economics! (Having said that, these were older people, so who says they even had modern flat roofs?)

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My husband is dealing with the snow on roofs of one house, and six storehouses, barns and sheds. None of them have flat roofs and the snow will slide off bit by bit if conditions are good. But it will not if we have enough days with low temperatures, no sun, and heavy snowfall. It's not a matter of being able to wait for the weather to come around and it's certainly not a matter of "sweeping" the roofs. There can be half a meter or so of heavy compacted snow and ice that must be shoveled and shoved off. It can take him two days to do it all and sometimes it has to be done more than once a week. Even if he could get an appointment with professionals, the cost is prohibitive. Doesn't qualify for helpers dispatched by the city as he's too young at 66, doesn't live alone, isn't bedridden, etc. It would be nice if he could get someone to help but everyone in the area is busy with work, their own roofs, taking care of sick family members, is on an incompatible schedule, etc. He doesn't want to fall off a roof and takes precautions but it isn't always easy or perfect and accidents do happen. I'll thank you not to call him stupid. He's doing thd best he can given the circumstances to protect his family.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Steep roofs probably more expensive, need more understructure, and more surface area to cover.

Can't the whiz kids think of some device to help out the oldsters?

How about something like a giant venetian blind (ブラインド), laid sideways on the roof?

Pull a cable from the side to flip it over, all the snow comes off, hopefully. Maybe pulled with a come-along (手動ウインチ, hand-operated winch), or powered winch.

I am picturing a Y-arrangement for the cable, arms attached to top and bottom of the blind and single leg kept off the side for pulling, same arrangement on the other end of the roof for next time it snows. Puller away from the eaves.

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He's doing thd best he can given the circumstances to protect his family.

Hoping your husband is alright, Educator60. I used to live and work in a snowy area of Japan, so I know it's not easy to keep ahead of the snow. It's good to have your perspective on this. Stay safe!

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Maybe a way to keep the roof constantly heated would work. That does sound expensive, though...

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B.B.Q.Demon: Maybe a way to keep the roof constantly heated would work. That does sound expensive, though...

Or just flip a switch when need to heat the roof enough for the snow to slip off, or to pump heated water under the snow load on the roof.

Recently a local guy was arrested for, among other things, stealing $47K worth of power to supply an illegal pot nursery he was running in a vacant house, for 200 plants. I don't think heating a roof constantly in snow conditions would be cheap.

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