The Korean Peninsula, Japan and China are seeing temperatures drop to levels not seen in a decade as snow impedes travel.

Countries across Northeast Asia are battling freezing weather with temperatures dropping to their lowest in at least a decade and snow hampering travel.

On Thursday, the South Korean capital, Seoul, issued a “cold wave” warning – when temperatures will be minus 15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit) for two days in a row.

Yonhap News Agency, citing the state meteorological agency, reported that it had also declared a warning of heavy snowfall, which covers Seoul and its suburbs, as well as some central parts of the country.

These warnings are issued when snowfall of 5 cm (2 in) or more is expected within 24 hours.

Rob McBride, Al Jazeera’s correspondent based in the city, said Japan’s capital, Tokyo, is also expecting a cold blast from Friday.

Parts of central and northern Japan are already battling decade-low temperatures and heavy snowfall. Air, train and road travel were affected, with drivers stuck in the snow for hours and authorities warning people in the hardest-hit areas not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

An aerial view of a traffic jam caused by heavy snow in Japan
In some areas of Japan, drivers have been advised to delay travel due to the risk of getting stuck in the snow [Kyodo via Reuters]

At least three deaths have been reported in Japan.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Yoshihiko Isozaki told reporters that the deaths may be related to accidents during snow removal and urged residents to refrain from such activities when there is no one else around to help in an emergency, according to AFP.

“There’s a wide swath of East Asia that’s been affected by this cold air mass coming in from the north,” McBride said, noting that the city of Mohe in China recorded “a bone-chilling -53°C.” [-63.4F]”.

Mohi sits near the border with Russia.

There are also concerns about North Korea, McBride said, where people are more vulnerable to severe weather because infrastructure is less developed and energy supplies less stable, especially outside major cities.

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