4:53 pm - Tuesday May 24, 0005

Three US navy planes crushed in Japan snow

At least three US Navy P-3 Orion surveillance planes were crushed “beyond repair” when unusually heavy snowfall swept across Japan in February, a US military daily reported Wednesday.

The planes were inside a contractor’s hangar near the US Navy air facility in Atsugi, west of Tokyo, the Pacific Stars and Stripes said in its online edition, citing a US Naval spokeswoman, AFP reports.

us planeA US Orion and six P-3 variants from the Japanese defence forces brought in for repairs or checks were also there.

The 550-foot (168-metre)-long hangar with an ageing 50-foot-high roof collapsed under snow, damaging most of the Japanese planes as well, the daily said, without saying the exact date of the incident.

Heavy snowfall struck across the Japanese islands on and off over weeks in February, killing 26 people, injuring more than 1,000 others and damaging more than 600 houses.

Tokyo and its vicinity on the Pacific board are not used to heavy snow storms.

Japan’s major non-life insurers have estimated the total damage caused by the heavy snow at roughly 60 billion yen ($600 million) or more after many garages and house roofs collapsed under the weight of snow and motor vehicles were involved in accidents on slippery roads.