2 elderly people die after falling from roofs while clearing snow

FUKUSHIMA —

Two elderly people died after falling from the roofs of their homes while clearing snow in Kitakata City, Fukushima Prefecture.

According to police, 70-yearold Yoshio Watanabe, 70, was seen by a neighbor clearing snow from the roof of his home at about 2 p.m. on Sunday. TV Asahi reported that his wife found him lying in the snow at about 10 p.m. Sunday. However, he was confirmed dead upon arrival at a hospital.

In the second incident, Miyoshi Watanabe, 76, apparently fell from the roof of her house and was found dead, lying on the snow below in front of the entrance, by her family when they returned home at about 6:40 p.m.

The area had 80 cms of snow on Sunday, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Japan Today

  • 5

    Lilic

    Here we go again, seems like they never learn....

  • -1

    basroil

    Sad, but hardly news. Hokkaido gets a dozen of them a year, mostly due to stupidity and not following minimal safety precautions. It's about time they learned to use heated roofs to get rid of snow in areas with a ton of snowfall, far cheaper than a funeral.

  • 0

    suzukakid

    So sad. You'd think their children, grandchildren, or younger neighbors would help them. RIP

  • -2

    Wakarimasen

    Kitakata City? Love the name.

  • 2

    kolohe

    For many of those living in Tohoku and Hokkaido where heavy snowfall is part of life, so is the way they rid the snow off their rooftops. Unfortunately, the elderly probably live alone with no children to help them and thus need to do the chores on their own. Maybe no one will to do the work for them.

  • -1

    smithinjapan

    Do the elderly not watch, read, or listen to the news? Do they not hear how, year after year after year people go up on their rooftops to clean off snow only to fall to their deaths?

    You'd think they would learn and take some precautions, or get someone else to do it.

  • 6

    Reckless

    I wonder if this is a form of elderly suicide? Like jumping in front of a train, rather jump off your roof.

    Also, in both instances above, it is not clear that the death was from the fall or being in freezing weather for several hours. For example, Mr. Watanabe seems to have been in the snow 8 hours, that would be enough to freeze to death if, for example, he had just been unconscious from the fall.

    Finally, my pops is nearing 70 and I don't consider him elderly. He is still quite active in every way.

  • 4

    smithinjapan

    There seems to be an extreme lack of common sense here when it comes to climbing up on the roof, with no protection, and trying to clean it off only to fall to one's death. While I'm sure it happens elsewhere in the world on occasion, I've never read about it, and it's certainly not a yearly statistic like choking on mochi at New Year's or kids being swept away in flash floods in summer while playing in rivers while the parents are nowhere to be found. Surely there's some equipment they could use to make the job safer. Until then, perhaps they should consider adding these deaths to the suicide count of the nation.

  • 1

    basroil

    but they COULD help out in some way from down below if asked, same as they can be asked to help around the house in general.

    Not a good idea, not when you're talking about 1m of snow that can come down with the force of a truck (from a 2 story house, a chunk of compact snow 50cm thick and 2sq, m, can weigh as much as 500kg, and move at speeds over 30mph). Children can get killed just being under that snow:

    http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/5-year-old-girl-dies-after-being-being-buried-by-snow-falling-from-roof

    While I'm sure it happens elsewhere in the world on occasion, I've never read about it, and it's certainly not a yearly statistic like choking on mochi

    It is in Japan, and actually far more people die from it each year than mochi. Last year it was 70-something preventable deaths, including over 40 from falling off a roof.

  • 3

    gogogo

    Happens every year, when was it taught for people to climb on their roofs? They do it in snow, they do it in typhoons, I don't get it?

  • 2

    Seawolf

    My mother back home fell down the stairs a few weeks ago and broke her arm. She turns 74 this week, has been working her whole live, horse riding as well. The thing is, people become older and some of their internal "system programs" slow down, don't function as well as they used to do.It might be the eyes, ears, balancing system. But there is no warning light turning on to alert the person or those around them. The long lives has brought wisdom, which makes up for shortcomings in body power, but sometimes it doesn't make them recognize that their judgment is wrong. These people have probably cleared snow from roofs their whole lives, and those winters from 50-60 years ago were much worse than what is coming down now. Probably did it least year, maybe even last month, without any problem.

  • 0

    Yubaru

    It's about time they learned to use heated roofs to get rid of snow in areas with a ton of snowfall, far cheaper than a funeral.

    While your sentiment is understandable you are off the mark. A funeral is actually cheaper than trying to heat the houses up there for a full winter, hence no central heating in the overwhelming majority of houses.

    Because Japan doesnt have enough natural resources it is not economically feasible.

  • 0

    Robert Dykes

    I am sorry they died. Don't take this the wrong way but why is this news. Something like 450 people die every year in Japan this way. I am sure some one slipped in the shower or fell down some stairs and died too, but that isn't in the news.

  • 7

    hokkaidoguy

    gogogo: Happens every year, when was it taught for people to climb on their roofs? They do it in snow, they do it in typhoons, I don't get it?

    Maybe someday you'll have the misfortune of noticing water dripping from the ceiling in your closet or living room and realize that if you don't clear the ice damn from the roof ASAP you're going to be looking at replacing everything you own AND gutting the place to deal with the mould damage. You'll get it then.

    Or you'll have the pleasure of a neighbor calling during a storm to tell you that you're losing part of your roof, and you're looking at living in a shelter for the next few weeks if it starts to go.

    In either case, you've got two choices: call someone and schedule an appointment to have the problem dealt with in the next couple of days (if you're lucky) or grab the ladder and whatever tools you need to do a temporary fix.

    It's not that hard to understand - especially if you've been in either of those situations. I've been in both, and it's an easy choice: bundle up and grab the ladder.

  • 1

    hokkaidoguy

    ^I don't know if I meant ice dam or damn ice. Either way, really.

  • -2

    bajhista65

    Until the local government in their area will pursue a strict campaign of warning people climbing their roofs to clear the snow, this kind of incident will be a regular yearly incident. I know in our Koriyama City, during fire season, there is always a truck roaming around warning people to be careful with their gas heaters catching fire over their public address system. I am sure local government can also do this warning regarding climbing roofs to remove snow.

  • 2

    timtak

    When people appear 'not to learn' or to be 'suicidal,' it is usually because I do not understand the factors effecting their decision. When you have sever square meters of snow on top of your old Japanese farmhouse, getting the stuff off your roof may be a matter of life or death, if you do not want to be crushed when it collapses. avigator and choiwaruoyaji think so to here: http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/3-buried-by-avalanche-at-akita-hot-spring-resort

  • -3

    basroil

    YubaruJan. 28, 2013 - 08:51PM JST

    While your sentiment is understandable you are off the mark. A funeral is actually cheaper than trying to heat the houses up there for a full winter, hence no central heating in the overwhelming majority of houses.

    Roof heating is done only when the snow falls, and can be done by electricity. With funeral costs well above 500k yen, it's cheaper.

    • Moderator

      Readers, please stay on topic. Funeral costs are, of course, irrelevant to this discussion.

  • 2

    GG2141

    I have a house in Hokkaido and the snow needs to be removed. Fact of life. However, I hire a dude for JPY4,000 to climb up and remove it. Have to do it once a year. Usually.

    I tried it one time and it was terrifying. Climbing up a narrow, vertical ladder and then hacking away at overhanging snowdrifts before you can get on top is Just not for me. It is, however, for the dude I hire to do that.

    And, worth mentioning, if you are aged / infirm the local Govt. will send a heavily subsidized due round to do the job for you.

  • 0

    Yubaru

    Roof heating is done only when the snow falls, and can be done by electricity. With funeral costs well above 500k yen, it's cheaper.

    Think it through, not even close. A one time shot MAYBE, but every single year, not even close when considering installation costs and increased electrical useage.

  • 0

    Balefire

    Many older people in Fukushima are apparently having trouble finding younger people to clear snow from their roof or elsewhere, because so many of them left with their kids out of anxiety about radiation. That leaves the old folks to deal with the problem themselves in many areas. Clearing streets of snow and ice so that people can go shopping or to the doctor has also become a problem, it seems. This has been a problem in many "graying" communities around Japan, but in parts of Fukushima it has been aggravated by the result of the reactor failures.

    Clear your roof/road and risk death by falling/freezing, or stay inside and risk death by starvation or collapsed roof: tough call.

    There have been several news stories/documentaries about the problem. Nobody seems to have a good solution, though.

  • -4

    basroil

    YubaruJan. 29, 2013 - 11:09AM JST

    Think it through, not even close. A one time shot MAYBE, but every single year, not even close when considering installation costs and increased electrical useage.

    I think you didn't get the memo above.

  • -2

    Jechan

    They nver learn. You'd think that by this age they'd have learnt a thing or two about living and life in general. But no, they stick to their old, stubborn ways and contribute nothing in the way of common sense to their children / grandchildren. Wake up Japan. Take notice of what people with common sense and life experience tell you. It's dangerous to go out on your roof in the snow and try to clean it at over 75 years of age!

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