Thousands stranded at Japan airport after heavy snow

Thousands stranded at Japan airport after heavy snow
Chinese tourists riot as they are upset with flight delays in Hokkaido.
PHOTO: YouTube

TOKYO - Several thousand travellers were stranded at the New Chitose Airport, as northern Japan experienced heavy snowfall for the third consecutive day, leading to the cancellation of over 280 flights.

Heavy snow in northern Japan brought transportation services to a standstill, with flights and train services cancelled and thousands of passengers forced to camp out at a regional airport for three straight nights.

Sapporo on Hokkaido Island received up to 96 centimetres, or 38 inches, of snow as of Friday night, the city's heaviest snowfall in half a century, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The snow blanketed the New Chitose Airport, the main gateway to the northern island region, and caused hundreds of flights to be cancelled.

Some 2,500 people were forced to stay there on Thursday night, 6,000 on Friday night and 2,600 on Saturday night, according to a security official at the airport.

The passengers' plight was compounded by the fact that most flights had been fully booked due to the holiday, national broadcaster NHK said.

Heavy snow in Japan causes train closures, flight delays

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    Chinese tourists riot at Hokkaido airport following plane delays over the Christmas holiday.

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    Chinese tourists riot at Hokkaido airport following plane delays over the Christmas holiday.

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    Chinese tourists riot at Hokkaido airport following plane delays over the Christmas holiday.

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    Chinese tourists riot at Hokkaido airport following plane delays over the Christmas holiday.

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    Chinese tourists riot at Hokkaido airport following plane delays over the Christmas holiday.

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    Chinese tourists riot at Hokkaido airport following plane delays over the Christmas holiday.

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    Chinese tourists riot at Hokkaido airport following plane delays over the Christmas holiday.

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    Chinese tourists riot at Hokkaido airport following plane delays over the Christmas holiday.

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    Chinese tourists riot at Hokkaido airport following plane delays over the Christmas holiday.

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    Chinese tourists riot at Hokkaido airport following plane delays over the Christmas holiday.

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    Our AsiaOne writer was on holiday in Japan at the time of the heavy snow. Here, he poses for a photo in the heavy morning snow on Dec 11 at Kiroro Resort, Hokkaido.

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    The heavy morning snow on Dec 11 at Kiroro Resort, Hokkaido.

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    The heavy morning snow on Dec 11 at Kiroro Resort, Hokkaido.

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    The heavy morning snow on Dec 11 at Kiroro Resort, Hokkaido.

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    The heavy morning snow on Dec 11 at Kiroro Resort, Hokkaido.

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    The direct bus to the airport was cancelled as the highway was closed, said our AsiaOne writer. The bus had dropped him and his family off at the nearest railway station, and they had to find their way to the airport. Here's a blurred photo showing the heavy snow on the railway tracks.

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    The direct train to New Chitose Airport was also one of those affected, said our AsiaOne writer.

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    They managed to get to the last train station then got a taxi to the airport.

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    They managed to get to the last train station.

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    The direct train service to the airport.

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    The taxi route to the airport our AsiaOne writer had to take. He had to constantly monitor his route to the airport worrying that he may miss his flight.

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    The heavy snow at the airport.

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    Fortunately for our AsiaOne writer, his flight was delayed by an hour allowing him to reach the airport on time.

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    The long lines and delays at the airport.

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    The long lines and delays at the airport.

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    The long lines and delays at the airport.

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    The long lines and delays for Scoot at the airport.

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    The heavy snow at the airport.

More than 280 flights to and from the airport were cancelled on Friday alone, along with hundreds of train services in the region during the weekend, according to local media.

However, the weather had significantly improved by Sunday morning and most if not all the stranded passengers at the airport should be able to leave by Sunday evening, according to the security official.

Hokkaido, known for its huge mountains and powder snow, attracts scores of Australian, Chinese and Japanese ski enthusiasts.

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