Thousands of people were left stranded on a highway in Japan this week, as a major snowstorm caused a traffic jam that stretched more than 10 miles.
According to NPR, the traffic jam began Wednesday on the Kanetsu Expressway between Tokyo and Niigata. A large truck reportedly became stuck in the snow that night, resulting in a massive pile-up that grew into the next day. It's reported that the lanes bound for Niigata were cleared by early Friday, but capital-bound lanes remained stalled through Friday night. A representative for East Nippon Expressway Co. said the highway could be cleared sometime Saturday.
"The snow was extremely heavy," one of the stranded drivers told NHK. "As time went by, the cars got buried. I was really scared. I've eaten all of my food and drinks. Now, to drink water, I have to melt snow I collect in a plastic bottle."
Japan's Self-Defense troops were deployed to the route to help remove snow and distribute food, water, blankets, portable toilets, and fuel to those who were stranded. Fire crews were also on site to help rescue individuals who required medical attention. CNN reports two people—a woman in her 30s and a man in his 60s—were transported to the hospital for nausea and respiratory problems. No fatalities have been reported.
"I would like to apologize for the extensive period of closure along the Kan-etsu Expressway caused by snow," Nexco East's president, Toru Obata, said at a press conference, "and particularly for trapping our customers for a long period of time."