The harrowing news of a lone father who sacrificed himself to save his 9-year-old daughter after becoming lost in a blizzard has been harrowing Japan amidst one of the coldest winters in years.
A 53-year-old fisherman who lived in the town of Yuubetsu on the northern coast of Hokkaido was taking his 9-year-old daughter Natsune to a friend’s house one afternoon when an intense blizzard descended on their car barely 1.5km from their home.
Police reported he made a call on his mobile saying his truck was stuck in the snow and he was continuing on foot to a nearby residence with his daughter to seek shelter, but heard nothing more.
Relying on his GPS and the light of traffic signals, he attempted to make his way through the blizzard, making it 300m down the road to a barn, but no further.
The following morning a local was shocked to discover him face down in the snow outside the barn, holding a tearful and shivering skiwear-clad Natsune in his arms underneath him.
The pair were taken to hospital – though Natsune was afflicted with hypothermia she is expected to make a full recovery, but her father had frozen to death atop her.
He had positioned his body to shield her from the bitterly cold northerly winds, and that and the warmth of his body are thought to have been the only thing which prevented Natsune sharing his fate in the 10 hours the pair spent in the snow.
Tragically, there was another residence only 50m away from the barn, but in the whiteout conditions he was apparently unable to spot it.
He lived alone with Natsune, his only child, after his wife passed away 2 years previously.
Natsune is said to have been persistently asking after the fate of her father as soon as she was hospitalised.
Locals say it was the most severe blizzard to afflict the area in many decades, in what has been an exceptionally cold winter for Japan.
Conditions in the blizzard were recorded by locals – it reportedly killed 8 people across Hokkaido: