1,000 people stuck overnight in Japan traffic jam stretching 9 miles long

An aerial photo shows cars stuck on Kanetsu expressway in Minami-uonuma City, Niigata Prefecture on December. 18, 2020.

Tokyo (CNN)More than 1,000 people in Japan spent Thursday night stuck on a highway in their cars, waiting out a traffic jam with little food or water during a heavy snowstorm.

Reports of the traffic jam, on the Kanetsu Expressway connecting Tokyo and Niigata prefectures, began emerging on Wednesday. By the early hours of Thursday morning, authorities had closed the highway entrance to alleviate clogging.
The jam began after a car got stuck in deep snow in the middle of the highway, grinding traffic to a halt, according to the Nippon Expressway Company (NEXCO), the country's highway operator.
    The country's central and northern regions had been hit with heavy snowfall that morning, disrupting transit and causing some communities to lose power.
    Traffic built up on the stalled highway; at its peak on Thursday night, the jam stretched to 15 kilometers (about 9.3 miles), NEXCO told CNN. Some segments of the long traffic line were able to move slowly with starts and stops, but some motorists remained stuck in place for more than 40 hours.
    Hundreds of vehicles stranded due to heavy snow on the Kanetsu Expressway on December 17.