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Heavy snow disrupts trains in Tottori, passengers spend night on train

Passengers wait for their train to resume operations at JR Aoya Station in Tottori at 5:35 a.m. on Feb. 11, 2017. (Mainichi)

TOTTORI -- Heavy snowfall that hit western Japan by the Sea of Japan on Feb. 10 caused train delays in Tottori Prefecture, forcing some passengers to spend the night on a train.

    At around 9 p.m. on Feb. 10, the heavy snow caused trouble at a train traffic light at Tottori Station on the JR Sanin Line, stranding a "Super Hakuto" limited express bound for Tottori from Kyoto at Tsunoi Station in the city of Tottori from around 11:15 p.m. About 130 passengers on board the train were trapped for about three and a half hours before the service resumed.

    The limited express arrived at Tottori Station shortly before 3 a.m. The station staff distributed water and biscuits to the passengers, who then lined up outside the station to catch a cab.

    A 66-year-old man who was on his way home in Tottori with his family from Tokyo said he was exhausted after spending hours trapped on the train. He was surprised to see the station and surrounding areas covered in snow, saying, "I didn't know that it had snowed this much."

    Meanwhile, another local train connecting Tottori and Yonago stations on the Sanin Line was made to stop at Aoya Station after a tree was found to have been knocked down on train tracks by the weight of snow between Aoya and Tomari stations at around 8:45 p.m. on Feb. 10. The tree was removed some six hours later and train services were resumed, but due to snow on the railroad accumulating to about 60 centimeters high, it was decided at 9 a.m. on Feb. 11 that the train would go back to Aoya Station. Train operator West Japan Railway Co. handed out rice balls, tea and blankets to the 26 passengers who were stuck on the train for more than 12 hours.

    Kazuhiro Chikuma, a 42-year-old passenger from the Tottori Prefecture town of Yurihama, was on his way home from work. "I used the train because I thought driving in this snow would be dangerous. I never expected I would have to wait for such a long time."

    As of 9 a.m. on Feb. 11, the city of Tottori had received 80 centimeters of snow. This is the first time in 22 years for the city to record 80 centimeters of snow.

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