Dozens spend night on slope of volcano

Viral video shows shocked mountain climbers moving away from peak as an expanding plume of ash engulfs them

Tokyo: A volcano in central Japan erupted on Saturday, catching mountain climbers by surprise and injuring at least 30 people, including seven who lost consciousness, and killing one.

Dense fumes spewed out from several spots on the slope of Mount Ontake as the volcano erupted in  central Japan.
Dense fumes spewed out from several spots on the slope of Mount Ontake as the volcano erupted in central Japan. PIC/AP

With a sound likened to thunder, Mount Ontake erupted shortly before noon on a clear autumn day, spewing large white plumes of ash high into the sky and sending people on the mountainside fleeing.

The eruption continued into the night, blanketing the surrounding area in ash. More than 250 people were stuck on the slopes for hours, many taking refuge in mountain lodges that dot the way up. By evening, most had made or were making their way down, though some decided to spend the night. Some with injuries didn’t want to risk coming down the ash-covered paths.

Thirty people were reported injured out of which eight were gravely injured and most of them lost consciousness, said Nagano prefecture crisis management official Minoru Kashiwabara. There was no update on the status of the injured early Saturday evening.

One witness told Japanese public broadcaster NHK that the eruption started with large booms that sounded like thunder.

In a YouTube video, shocked climbers can be seen moving quickly away from the peak as an expanding plume of ash emerges above and then engulfs them.      

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