Volcanic rocks killed most victims

2014-10-02 20:41
Dense fumes spew from Mt Ontake as the volcano erupts in central Japan. (Kyodo News, AP)

Dense fumes spew from Mt Ontake as the volcano erupts in central Japan. (Kyodo News, AP)

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Tokyo - Doctors have determined that almost all of the dozens of people killed on a Japanese volcano died of injuries from being hit by volcanic rocks that flew out during its eruption, police said on Thursday.

Rescuers have retrieved 47 bodies from the ash-covered summit area of Mount Ontake since Saturday's eruption.

Doctors concluded that all but one of the bodies showed signs of having been hit by volcanic boulders and rocks, Nagano prefectural police said. The other victim died of burns from inhaling hot air.

Most of the bodies were found near the summit, where many climbers were resting or having lunch.

The eruption at Mount Ontake, in central Japan, caught hikers by surprise. Seismologists have said that increased seismic activity had been detected at Ontake, one of 47 active volcanoes in Japan that are under 24-hour monitoring, but that nothing signalled such a big eruption.

The search for more bodies continued on Thursday, but ended early due to bad weather and concerns about toxic gases. Authorities are looking into the possibility that about 20 people caught in the eruption are still missing.

The death toll is the highest from a volcanic eruption in Japan's postwar history, exceeding the 43 people killed in the 1991 eruption of Mount Unzen in southern Japan.

Read more on:    japan  |  volcanoes

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