Japan volcano eruption toll mounts to 36 after five more bodies found in search

29 Sep 2014


The Japanese volcanic eruption has so far claimed 36 lives. Japanese rescue teams today resumed a grim operation to recover more bodies after 31 people were believed killed in a volcanic eruption, and as survivors said they had seen hikers buried under tonnes of ash and rocks.

Over 1,100 firefighters, police and troops returned to Mount Ontake in a bid to reach those they had to abandon yesterday when high levels of poisonous gas made the operation too dangerous.

Smoke continued to rise from the peak today, as helicopters started a search around the volcano, a popular destination for walkers during autumn. Rescue workers could be seen climbing slopes blanketed with thick, grey ash in aerial footage.

At least 31 people were found near the summit of 3,067-metre (10,121-foot) volcano, which erupted Saturday without warning. According to emergency workers who reached them, they were not breathing and had no pulse.

Meanwhile the UK's The Telegraph reported that the search for survivors from the ongoing eruption of Japan's Mount Ontake had turned into a race to recover dozens of bodies more from the upper slopes of the volcano.

Other climbers, who remained untraceable are believed to have died of asphyxiation from the poisonous gases that the volcano continued to spew.

"They brought down four bodies yesterday and another six so far this morning," Nobuyuki Takeuchi, superintendent of the Kiso Police Station, told The Telegraph.

"But the situation is very difficult as the mountain is still erupting," he said. "This morning, search teams from the police, the fire service and the SDF have set out to search routes that we have not been able to get to so far."

In the town of Takayama, according to a  spokesman for the city's Red Cross Hospital, three people were receiving treatment for bones and extensive burns caused by hot gases.

According to authorities, as well as the dead, over 40 people were injured and 43 were missing.

Among those missing is an 11-year-old girl who was scaling the peak with her family but had set off earlier. The girl's mother and brothers were able to be evacuated from the mountain and were safe.

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