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52 die in Japanese snowstorms

Feb. 1, 2012 at 10:06 PM

NAGANO, Japan, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- A paralyzing snowstorm on Japan's west coast has killed 52 people and injured 600, with three people surviving burial in an avalanche Wednesday, officials say.

More than 10 feet of snow has fallen in the hardest-hit areas, where northwestern Japan has been hit with a series of snowstorms since the beginning of the year, ABC News reported. A 310-foot steel bridge in Nagano collapsed, schools have been closed, and cities in Niigata Prefecture are running out of funding budgeted for cleanup.

Residents are frustrated by the slow response of government in dealing with the emergencies, ABC reported. Nearly all the storm-related casualties are the result of individuals attempting their own snow removal.

The avalanche, in Akita Prefecture, buried three women. They were rescued after an hour, unconscious but alive.

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