Freezing Temps Wreak Havoc in Asia

Parts of Japan could see coldest weather in a decade; more than 100 are dead in Afghanistan
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2023 8:54 AM CST
Deadly Cold Rushes Over Asia
A train is stopped due to a power outage at Nishioji Station in Kyoto, Japan, on Wednesday.   (Kyodo News via AP)

Snow, wind, and freezing temperatures are wreaking havoc across Asia, and in some places it's turned deadly. Earlier this week, more than 120 people died in Afghanistan from the cold, while in China's northernmost city of Mohe, known as "China's North Pole," record lows of -63.4 degrees Fahrenheit were seen, reports Reuters. Now, a severe cold front and high winds are bringing the misery to the Korean Peninsula and Japan, causing power outages, grounding flights, and causing temps to dangerously plummet.

The Guardian notes that the mercury is falling so much in some parts of Japan that they may see their lowest temperatures in a decade, with heavy snow set for the central part of the country and in the northeast throughout Wednesday. That same day, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno announced that there's been one fatality so far from the extreme weather, while two other deaths are being looked into. Meanwhile, in Seoul, South Korea, temperatures dropped to just above zero, while along its border with North Korea, the thermometer hovered around -13 degrees Fahrenheit.

The BBC cites a Radio Free Asia report from late last year on how "large numbers" of people had gone missing in North Korea during a similarly bad cold spell, with many suspected of having died of starvation or by freezing to death. Officials throughout Japan and the Koreas are now warning people away from traveling, with domestic airlines in Japan set to cancel more than 400 flights on Wednesday. South Korea's resort island of Jeju canceled almost 500 flights the previous day.

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Officials also say strong winds may have led to the sinking of a cargo ship headed from Japan to Jeju Island on Wednesday. So far, just 13 of the 22 crew members had been rescued as of Wednesday afternoon, with the search ongoing. Railway services in Japan have also been suspended en masse due to the wind and heavy snow, with travelers stranded in trains and sleeping on station floors. (More Japan stories.)

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