Northeast Asia battles severe cold snap and heavy snow
The Korean Peninsula, Japan and China see temperatures plunge to levels not seen in a decade as snow hampers travel.
Countries across Northeast Asia are battling freezing weather with temperatures falling to their lowest in at least a decade and snowfall hampering travel.
On Thursday, the South Korean capital, Seoul, issued a “cold wave” warning – when temperatures are below minus 15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit) for two consecutive days.
It also announced a heavy snow advisory, covering Seoul and its suburbs, as well as some central parts of the country, Yonhap news agency reported, citing the state weather agency.
Such advisories are issued when snowfall is expected to reach 5cm (2 inches) or more within 24 hours.
The Japanese capital, Tokyo, is also expecting a cold blast from Friday, said Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride who is in the city.
Parts of central and northern Japan have already been battling temperatures at their lowest in a decade and heavy snowfall. Air travel, trains and roads have all been affected, with drivers stuck in snow for hours and the authorities warning people in the worst affected areas not to travel unless absolutely necessary.
At least three deaths have been reported in Japan.
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki told reporters that the deaths could be linked to accidents while removing snow and urged residents to refrain from such activities when nobody else is around to help in case of an emergency, according to the AFP news agency.
“There’s a broad swath of East Asia that has been affected by this cold mass of air coming from the north,” McBride said, noting that the town of Mohe in China had recorded a “bone-chilling -53 degrees Celsius [-63.4F]”.
Mohe sits near the border with Russia.
McBride said there were also concerns about North Korea, where people are more vulnerable to extreme weather because infrastructure is less developed and energy supplies less stable, particularly outside big cities.