by Danielle Demetriou, The Telegraph, January 23, 2018
A volcanic eruption near a ski resort in Japan has triggered an avalanche, killing one and injuring more than a dozen skiers.
A torrent of rocks reportedly hit the ski slopes following the eruption of Mount Kusatsu-Shirane, a 7,090ft volcano, in Gunma prefecture, north of Tokyo.
Six members of Japan’s Ground Self-Defence Forces who were conducting a winter training exercise in the area were among those rescued, with one of the group later dying from his injuries.
At least 12 skiers on the mountainside were also reportedly injured by the avalanche or falling volcanic rocks, including five seriously, according to local media.
Among those injured were four people hurt by glass shattering as rocks hit the gondola in which they were travelling, with around 100 reportedly evacuated from the area.
Japan’s disaster agency warned that rocks could be thrown as far as one mile from the peak of the mountain, while CCTV footage from the ski resort showed rocks flying through the sky amid plumes of black smoke.
Confirming the eruption, an official for the Japanese Metereological Agency told Reuters: “Based on various measurements, we can say that the mountain appears to have erupted, but we are still trying to confirm facts on the ground.”
Japan has 110 active volcanoes and monitors 47 of them around the clock. In September 2014, 63 people were killed on Mount Ontake, the worst volcanic disaster in Japan for nearly 90 years.
Four years ago, 63 people were killed when Mount Ontake erupted, the country’s worst volcanic disaster in nearly 90 years.
The latest incident took place as Tokyo briefly ground to a halt after it was shrouded in the heaviest snowfall to hit the capital in four years.
The city woke up on Tuesday to around nine inches of snowfall, causing widespread traffic chaos and public transport delays as well as trapping cars on bridges and in tunnels.
More than 740 traffic accidents due to snow were reported, while an estimated 6,000 people were also stuck overnight at Tokyo’s Narita airport due to cancelled flights and a lack of transport.
There is normally light winter snowfall around once a year in Tokyo, although it rarely settles.