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Snow, cold disrupt transport in Japan, West Japan Railway apologizes

NHK -- Jan 26
Heavy snow has brought traffic nightmares to parts of Japan. Vehicles became stranded on many roadways. Trains also got stuck with passengers on board, prompting railway officials to review procedures.

In western Japan, more than a dozen trains stopped for hours. About 7,000 passengers were trapped inside overnight from Tuesday.

Sixteen people reported feeling unwell and were taken to hospitals.

West Japan Railway President Hasegawa Kazuaki said, "I sincerely apologize for having forced our customers to endure severe conditions for such a long time."

The president says the company underestimated how much snow would fall and failed to activate a snow-melting system on tracks. He pledged to make improvements.

Many trucks were stuck for nearly 24 hours on an expressway that links the western prefectures of Mie and Shiga. The jam at one point stretched about 10 kilometers.

The expressway operator says the section has now been cleared.

Warmer weather is forecast across Japan toward the weekend.

But weather officials warn accumulated snow and icy roads may lead to more disruptions of public transport.

They also urge people to be careful of snow falling from roofs, and possible accidents during snow removal.

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