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[VIDEO] Volcano Erupts In Central Japan, Hiker Dead, Dozens Reported Stranded | 御嶽山 大噴火 山頂火口付近 衝撃の山小屋

Dozens of hikers were stranded Saturday on the slopes of an erupting Japanese volcano that has reportedly killed one person and left 30 more seriously injured.

A manager of Japan Meteorological Agency speaks at a press conference to explain the eruption of Mount Ontake, in Tokyo on September 27, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jiji Press)

A manager of Japan Meteorological Agency speaks at a press conference to explain the eruption of Mount Ontake, in Tokyo on September 27, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jiji Press)

Ash, rocks and steam continued to spew from Mount Ontake more than nine hours after it sprang violently to life as around 250 people were trying to scale its peak.

“The speed of the smoke was too fast. You can’t escape.”I’m worried that many more people are still on the mountain.”

— A climber, reported by NHK

Four people were buried by the ash, with one having been dug out, Kyodo News reported.

“I first thought it was thunder as I heard a bang and another bang, two or three times,” a trekker told public broadcaster NHK. “Then volcanic dust fell noisily.”

A picture taken by Nagano Prefectural Police on September 27, 2014 shows ash and smoke billowing from Mount Ontake (AFP Photo/)

A picture taken by Nagano Prefectural Police shows ash and smoke billowing from Mount Ontake (AFP Photo)

“Amateur cameraman Keiji Aoki told Jiji Press: “It was tremendous. I prepared for death when I got caught in the dust under a pine tree.”

— Amateur cameraman Keiji Aoki, to Jiji Press

A suffocating blanket of ash up to 20 centimetres (8 inches) deep covered a large area of the 3,067 metre (10,121-foot) volcano, trapping climbers and forcing up to 150 into mountaintop shelters at one point.

Around 230 people have now reached the bottom but a further 40 are trapped at the summit where they will spend the night in shelters, local media reported.

Aerial footage of Mt. Ontake showed several cabins smothered with the thick dust, some with windows that appear to have been shattered by the force of the eruption.

NHK said 32 people had been seriously injured, including more than 10 who were unconscious. The broadcaster said one woman was now known to have died.

The eruption came on a busy autumn day on a mountain popular among hikers at this time of year.

Footage apparently filmed by someone on the volcano as it erupted showed towering columns of thick smoke surging into the air and then cascading down its flanks, enveloping walkers.

“The speed of the smoke was too fast. You can’t escape,” a climber told NHK. “I’m worried that many more people are still on the mountain.”

Another climber told how it became impossible to breathe and said rocks were falling “like hailstones”.

In Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered the military to send troops to the peak to rescue hikers.

“We have confirmed that there have been injuries,” Abe told reporters. “I ordered (government officials) to do their best to secure the safety of mountain climbers.”

Earlier in the day, local authorities said they had received reports from people on the mountain that at least 11 hikers had been injured, including seven unconscious…(read more)
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