130 cars in half-mile pile-up on Japanese motorway leaves one dead

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·2 min read

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At least 134 cars were involved in a massive pile-up on a Japanese motorway that left one person dead and more than a dozen injured.

The series of collisions occurred when a snowstorm struck a stretch of the Tohoku Expressway near Osaki City in the northern prefecture of Miyagi at midday on Tuesday.

The pile-up of cars stretched half a mile down the road, the government said.

Two hundred people were caught up in the crashes, Japan’s disaster management agency added.

General view shows the site where cars were involved in a series of crashes when a snow storm struck a stretch of highway on the Tohoku Expressway in Osaki, Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan January 19, 2021. Kyodo via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN.
The cars were involved in a series of crashes when a snow storm struck a stretch of road on the Tohoku Expressway in Osaki. (Reuters)

One person was killed and 17 people were transported to hospital, according to Japanese publication NHK.

The publication identified the victim as Mihiro Sudo, 65, from the city of Ichinoseki.

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The wind suddenly intensified at the observation point in Furukawa, Osaki near the site of the accident, according to NHK, which cited the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Authorities had imposed a speed limit of 50kph (31mph) when the heavy snow and wind cut visibility but that was not enough to prevent disaster.

An aerial view shows the site where cars were involved in a series of crashes when a snow storm struck a stretch of highway on the Tohoku Expressway in Osaki, Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan January 19, 2021. Kyodo via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN.
Two hundred people were caught up in the incident. (Reuters)

A man in his forties from Sendai, who was driving to Iwate prefecture for work when the accident occured, described the scene to NHK.

He said: "I was in a situation where visibility was poor due to a snowstorm.”

The man added he saw an accident up ahead and stopped, then the car behind hit him. He said: “I was scared because I couldn't move for about six hours."

General view shows the site where cars were involved in a series of crashes when a snow storm struck a stretch of highway on the Tohoku Expressway in Osaki, Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan January 19, 2021. Kyodo via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN.
More than 130 vehicles were involved in the series of crashes. (Reuters)
General view shows the site where cars were involved in a series of crashes when a snow storm struck a stretch of highway on the Tohoku Expressway in Osaki, Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan January 19, 2021. Kyodo via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN.
One person was killed and 17 people were transported to hospital. (Reuters)

Rescue operations and car removals were reportedly completed by 8pm local time but drivers were left stranded in their cars for hours.

The publication said that many vehicles were stranded so officials from Osaki provided drinking water, food and blankets to drivers from around 2.40pm.

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