Severe blizzard in Japan: Father froze to death sheltering 9yr old daughter, who survived; 8 others died – 050313 1630z

A severe blizzard swept over northern Japan late last week.

A father froze to death last weekend as he sought to shelter his nine-year-old daughter, multiple news reports said on Monday.

She survived the ordeal.

At least nine people were killed in incidents related to the foul winter weather, reports also showed.

The storm unleashed high winds, heavy snow and blinding whiteouts, the worst of which happened on the island of Hokkaido on Saturday, March 2.

Data also indicated that more than a foot of new snow fell at the Wakkanai Airport in northernmost Hokkaido.

Sustained winds reached at least 52 mph with higher gusts. Gusts hit at least 64 mph at Monbetsu.

Okada, a fisherman, picked up his daughter, Natsune, from school Saturday afternoon, the Australian website said.

Their truck became stranded in the windswept, heavily drifted snow.

He opted to have them both walk the last kilometer (about 1,000 yards), yet they were found only 300 meters from the vehicle.

Okada had given Natsune his coat, then he wrapped his arms around her, the Australia said.

Rescuers found her in his arms.

Tuesday, 05 March, 2013 at 14:05 (02:05 PM) UTC RSOE

News Reports


Father dies sheltering 9-year-old daughter from blizzard Mar. 05, 2013 – 02:23PM JST

Father dies sheltering 9-year-old daughter from blizzard A road on Hokkaido island is seen covered in snow on March 3, 2013 after severe weekend blizzards sweep northern Japan AFP


A father froze to death while sheltering his nine-year-old daughter from severe weekend blizzards that swept northern Japan, two years after her mother died, reports said Monday.

Mikio Okada died as he tried to protect his only child Natsune against winds of up to 109 kilometers per hour in Yubetsu, Hokkaido, as temperatures plunged to minus 6 Celsius.

Okada was one of at least nine people killed in a spate of snow-related incidents as blizzards swept across Hokkaido, police said Monday.

The latest confirmed victim was Kuniko Jingi, 76, who was found lying on the street late Saturday. As with many others, she appeared to have perished after leaving her stranded car, a local police officer said.

Okadas body was uncovered by rescuers looking for the pair after relatives raised the alarm. Natsune was wearing her fathers jacket and was wrapped in his arms, newspapers and broadcasters said.

The pair had last been heard from at 4 p.m. on Saturday, after fisherman Okada picked his daughter up from a school where she was being looked after while he was at work.

Okada called his relatives to say his truck had become stranded in the driving snow, which was several meters deep in places. He told them he and Natsune would walk the remaining kilometre, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.

The two were found just 300 meters from the truck at 7 am on Sunday.

Okada was hunched over his daughter, cradling her in his arms and apparently using his body and a warehouse wall to provide shelter, the Yomiuri said.

He had taken his jacket off to give to the child, a broadcaster said.

Rescuers said she was weeping weakly in his arms, the paper said.

The young girl was taken to hospital where she was found to have no serious injuries. Her father was officially pronounced dead by doctors at the same institution near their home at Yubetsu on Hokkaido.

The Yomiuri said Natsunes mother had died two years earlier from an unspecified illness.

The paper quoted neighbors as saying Okada had been a doting father who would often delay the start of his working day to enjoy breakfast with his daughter.

His death came as families all over Japan celebrated Girls Day, a festival in which they gather at home and decorate houses with dolls.

He reserved a cake for his only daughter and was looking forward to celebrating Dolls Festival together, a neighbor told the Yomiuri.


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