Tens of thousands of people in northern Japan spent the night without heat or light after a powerful winter storm knocked out electricity cables, local officials said on Wednesday.
The blizzard cut electricity to some 56,000 households in the northern main island of Hokkaido on Tuesday, forcing nearly 300 people to evacuate their homes overnight, a local government official said.
Noboribetsu city was blanketed by 18 centimetres (seven inches) of snow and the temperature fell as low as minus 5.7 degrees Celsius (22 Fahrenheit) early Wednesday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
Power was restored by the morning in some areas but went down again shortly afterwards. Muroran, an industrial city on Hokkaido's Pacific coast, was badly affected, a spokesman for Hokkaido Electric Power Co said.
By mid-morning 42,540 households were still without power, the utility said.