Dozens of hikers trapped or missing after Japanese volcano erupts

Rescue teams searched Sunday for dozens of climbers who were caught by the sudden eruption of a volcano in central Japan a day earlier.

Mount Ontake unleashed a huge cloud of ash on Saturday morning that billowed down the mountainside and engulfed hikers in its path. Forty-five people remained trapped in several cottages on the mountain, and at least 23 other people are missing, local authorities said Sunday.

The exact number of people unaccounted for was unclear, as officials were uncertain how many had already made it off the mountain. Authorities said there were 200 – 250 hikers in the area at the time of the eruption.

More than 350 rescue workers – a mix of police, firefighters and military personnel – began climbing two separate routes up the mountain on Sunday morning, authorities in the nearby village of Otaki said.

More than 25 people were reported to have been injured, 10 of them seriously, according to the government of Nagano prefecture, where the volcano is situated. Among the climbers trapped in the cottages, at least 11 were injured, officials in Otaki said. They had observed 17-20 inches (40-50 centimeters) of volcanic ash covering the ground in some areas.

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Rescuers find more than 30 hikers in ‘cardiac arrest’ on Japan’s Mt Ontake after sudden volcanic eruption

More than 30 hikers have been found in cardiac arrest near the peak of an erupting volcano in Japan, police say, using a term usually applied before doctors are able to certify death.

Rescue workers found the hikers near the summit of 3,067-metre Mount Ontake, which erupted about noon on Saturday (local time).

“We have confirmed that more than 30 individuals in cardiac arrest have been found near the summit,” a Nagano prefecture police spokesman told the AFP news agency without elaborating further.

Rescuers were planning to bring four people down the mountain by later tonight, Jiji Press said citing police sources.

In Japan, the term “cardiac arrest” is used by emergency services for people without vital signs.

More than 500 Japanese military and police set out earlier today to search the peak of the volcano which is popular with hikers.

About 250 people, including children, were stranded on the peak after it erupted without warning, sending ash pouring down the slope for more than three kilometres.

 

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