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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 5°C
Pacific Ring of Fire

Amazing video captured by Japanese hikers running for cover as volcano erupts

At least eleven hikers were injured when Mount Ontake started spewing ash and smoke.

kuroda terutoshi / YouTube

A VOLCANO HAS erupted in central Japan, shooting ash and rocks into the air that reportedly left 11 hikers injured, including seven unconscious, and forced 150 people to shelter in cabins near the summit.

The eruption of the 3,067m Mount Ontake straddling Nagano and Gifu prefecture happened around midday, the meteorological agency said.

Television footage showed huge clouds of smoke billowing from the peak, which is a popular destination for trekkers.

Several cabins near the summit were fully covered with grey ash, while some window glasses appeared shattered.

“There was a thunder-like noise and the sky became dark because of the smoke,” Shuichi Mukai, who runs a mountain lodge near the summit, told Kyodo News.

“There are 15 centimetres of ash on the ground,” Mukai said.

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

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

Local authorities said they had received reports from people in the mountain that at least 11 hikers were injured, including seven unconscious.

“We are trying to confirm the reports,” said Sohei Hanamura, an official of the Nagano prefectural government.

“We have not received any reports of death but we are afraid that the number of casualties would increase,” Hanamura said.

NHK said some 150 people were forced to stay inside lodges near the summit, while local authorities dispatched rescuers, including doctors, to the site.

NHK also said three people were trapped outside as they could not move due to the ash and rocks falling around them.

Television footage showed dozens of hikers covered with ash hurriedly descending the mountain.

Climbers, reaching bottom points of a trail, shook hands with joy to share relief from the disaster.

“I escaped with my bare life,” a local resident told NHK. “Immediately after I watched the eruption, I rushed away but I was soon covered with ash, which piled up by some 20 centimetres.”

The meteorological agency forecast further eruptions, warning that volcanic debris may settle within 4km of the peak.

The agency also placed restrictions on access to the mountain, while calling on local residents to remain on alert as an eruption could shatter windows miles away.

Mount Ontake’s last major eruption was in 1979 when it expelled more than 200,000 tonnes of ash, according to local media.

It also produced a minor eruption in 1991 and caused multiple volcanic earthquakes in 2007.

© – AFP 2014

Read: Dramatic video shows two men diving into an exploding volcano >

Read: What’s that smell? Fumes from Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano reach Ireland >

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