400 passengers stranded on train amid heavy snow in northern Japan

Hundreds of people were stranded on a train for more than 15 hours because of heavy snowfall in Niigata Prefecture, central Japan.

More than half of the passengers on the four-car train on East Japan Railway Co.'s Shinetsu Line evacuated earlier in the morning with their relatives coming to pick them up by vehicle.

These videos, taken by an onlooker, show efforts by a railway worker to shovel snow off the tracks in front of the train. Two women who felt ill were also rescued.

"I just want to sleep", a male passenger said.

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The train was stuck in Sanjo city, about 300km northwest of Tokyo.

Due to delays and cancelations of train services caused by the snow, the train was crowded at the time.

The operator did not let the passengers leave the train overnight, saying it was unsafe to go outside given the heavy snowfall.

Transport minister Keiichi Ishii said he had instructed the operator to investigate why it took so long to help the passengers and resume the train service.

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There were no snowplows operating near the site Thursday evening, and the only one deployed arrived at the site at around 9:30 a.m. Friday.

A spokesman for the railway company said that passengers, many of whom had no seats to sit on, were advised not to get off and walk to the station, about 1km away, for safety reasons.

The railway company said 4 other trains had to stop at stations on the same line, leaving more than 400 passengers stranded overnight.

In the meantime, another 410 vehicles got stuck on the Hokuriku Expressway in Toyama and Ishikawa prefectures, but there were no reports of injuries or sickness, according to local authorities.

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