Monday, September 29, 2014

Japan: Update--Death Toll from Mt. Ontake Now Stands at 36, 45 Missing

According to, at least 36 people are believed to have died from this weekend’s eruption at Mt. Ontake in central Japan, as dangerous gases emitting from the country’s second-highest volcano hampered efforts to recover victims.

Twelve bodies have been retrieved from the mountain since yesterday and were declared dead, public broadcaster NHK reported. Crews were forced to suspend operations yesterday and this afternoon to avoid being overtaken by sulphurous gases emitting from the volcano’s vent, said Soshi Shiotani, an official at the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.
Smoke and ash have billowed from Ontake since the eruption shortly before noon on September 27, as efforts continued to find missing hikers and bring down the injured. The Japan Meteorological Agency said in a statement that the eruption could be a precursor to further bursts of volcanic activity.
COMMENT: “The rescuers would have stopped due to high levels of gas,” Shane Cronin, an earth science professor who specializes in volcanoes at New Zealand’s Massey University, said in an e-mail. “With gas in the eyes and acid impacts on the skin, it rapidly becomes a very unpleasant and dangerous environment to work in.”
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said this morning it was in the process of revising the number of people unaccounted for. The agency put that number at 45 on Sunday. 

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