A relatively small volcanic eruption in Japan, at Mount Ontake, led to a panic situation as around 250 hikers were stranded on the mountain peak at the time of the natural calamity. The eruption was not forecast by volcanologists, and, hence, the hikers had no idea about what was awaiting them. Many have been injured, but most of them made it back safe to the land. However, around 31 people have died under the ashes and yet others are still missing. A team of more than 1 100 firemen, soldiers, and police troops have set out to rescue the hikers.
After the volcano in the Philippines threatening lives such that massive evacuations were made necessary, it is now the turn of Mount Ontake in Japan to make itself heard – this one actually erupted during the weekend, without having had any prior warning made, to the dismay of the great number of hikers who had set out to have a good time on the mountain. Many have been wounded, while many others are still missing. Around 31 people have even lost their lives as a consequence.
Picture of hikers taken by one of them, Keiji Aoki on 27.09.14
The mountain is situated around 200 km west of Tokyo. It had last erupted in 2007 and fortunately, noone had died during the last eruption. The 3067m volcano erupted on Saturday at around noon, emitting a cloud of ash that has settled around the volcano area. Channels of thick white steam were also released. Also, rocks have been seen flying around, thereby hurting the people.
More than 500 soldiers had been despatched during the weekend to make up a rescue team to find the 250 stranded people. Most of them made it out safely. 40 people have been wounded by the rocks that were violently spewed out. The thick layer of ash made matters worse: 7 hikers were spotted lying unconscious under the ash. Yet other 2 of the hikers were found waving at the helicopter and were thus rescued. 30 others have not been found yet. Around 150 hikers had found shelter in a hut found just below the peak. When it was safe to come out, they made their way down.
The rescue team surveying an ash-covered cabin to locate any hiker
Hikers descend Mount Ontake on saturday, 27th of September; photo taken by anonymous climber and sent to Kyodo News
An official described the situation as being “very hard”: “It’s very hard to know what’s happening on the mountain now and things could change.” Survivors have also given their account of the terrible incident. Some of them said having witnessed around 31 people die under the layers of ash and rocks.
More than 1 100 firefighters, police and troops returned to the rescue of the hikers today, 29th of September, after they had to leave on Sunday because of poisonous gases emanating from the volcano further menacing their lives.
Four men have been confirmed to be dead. Another group is believed to have had cardiac arrests: they were not breathing and their hearts had stopped when the rescuers had reached them.
Rescuers carrying bodies of hikers having had cardiac arrest
Japan is often shaken with seismic activities since it lies on a site where three crustal plates of the Earth collide with each other. Volcanologists explained that no warning was issued as the nature of this eruption made it difficult to be predicted. To begin with, it was a considerably small eruption. Also, the eruption was not driven by lava released from the magma chamber, which made it more difficult for forecasting. The good thing, though, is that most of the hikers survived as a consequence. Had the volcanic eruption been more intense, many more would have died.