First deaths con­firmed on Ja­panese vol­cano

Viet Nam News - - Front Page -

OTAKI, Ja­pan — The first deaths were con­firmed yes­ter­day among more than 30 hik­ers feared killed near the peak of a Ja­panese vol­cano that erupted with­out warn­ing, spew­ing ash, rocks and steam.

Res­cue work­ers bat­tling rock­et­ing lev­els of sul­phurous gas found 31 peo­ple in “ car­diac ar­rest ” near the sum­mit of 3,067- me­tre Mount On­take, which erupted around noon on Satur­day, po­lice and lo­cal of­fi­cials said.

The term is usu­ally ap­plied be­fore doc­tors can cer­tify death. Four of those found were brought down the vol­cano yes­ter­day where they were con­firmed dead, broad­caster NHK re­ported.

“Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice, four peo­ple out of the 31 peo­ple who had been found in car­diac ar­rest near the peak were con­firmed dead. All of them were men,” a sta­tion an­chor­man told view­ers.

The news ap­peared to con­firm fears that there was lit­tle hope for those still on the vol­cano.

Res­cue op­er­a­tions re­sumed yes­ter­day on Mt. On­take, cen­tral Ja­pan, ac­cord­ing to po­lice.

The vol­cano, which strad­dles Nagano and Gifu pre­fec­tures, erupted With smoke plumes ex­tend­ing up to 10km high, the vol­cano con­tin­ued to erupt into the night, pre­vent­ing res­cue op­er­a­tions on Satur­day amid fears of fresh erup­tions and toxic gas.

Yes­ter­day morn­ing, three climbers were picked up by a Self-De­fense Forces he­li­copter be­fore sev­eral un­con­scious climbers were dis­cov­ered by noon, ac­cord­ing to the Nagano pre­fec­tural gov­ern­ment and po­lice.

The pre­fec­tural gov­ern­ment said that a to­tal of 45 peo­ple re­mained un­ac­counted for as of 11:30am yes­ter­day.

More than 40 climbers were forced to shel­ter in lodges overnight due to poor vis­i­bil­ity.

A to­tal of 26 climbers who had stayed in a lodge on the Gifu side be­gan to de­scend on their own yes­ter­day morn­ing and reached the foot of the moun­tain be­fore noon, with two of them se­ri­ously in­jured and six suf­fer­ing mi­nor in­juries.

The other climbers who shel­tered in lodges on the Nagano side were still on the moun­tain.

The moun­tain, popular with tourists par­tic­u­larly in the fall, last ex­pe­ri­enced a ma­jor erup­tion in 1979 when it ex­pelled over 200,000 tons of ash. It also un­der­went a mi­nor erup­tion in 1991 and caused mul­ti­ple vol­canic earth­quakes in 2007.

While data had shown ev­i­dence of vol­canic earth­quakes in the area in mid-Septem­ber, there were few other in­di­ca­tions that an erup­tion might be in the off­ing, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to pre­dict, ac­cord­ing to the Ja­pan Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Agency.

Res­cue ef­forts were called off mid- af­ter­noon yes­ter­day be­cause the en­vi­ron­ment was be­com­ing too dan­ger­ous for emer­gency work­ers, an of­fi­cial at the Nagano pre­fec­tural gov­ern­ment said. —

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