Sun, Oct 05, 2014 - Page 5 News List

Three more bodies found on volcano as typhoon nears


Japan Self-Defense Force soldiers conduct rescue operations yesterday on Mount Ontake, which erupted on Sept. 27 and straddles Nagano and Gifu prefectures, central Japan, in a handout photograph released by Joint Staff of the Defence Ministry of Japan.

Photo: Reuters

Authorities found three more bodies on a still-smoldering Japanese volcano yesterday after a search stalled by heavy rain resumed, while a typhoon threatened to further hamper the recovery operation.

Local authorities said on Friday that 16 people were unaccounted for on Mount Ontake, which erupted a week ago. It was not immediately clear if the three bodies found yesterday were included in that figure.

The bodies of 47 other victims have already been retrieved. Rescue workers have spoken of up to half a meter of thick, sticky ash smothering the slopes, with some of the dead found half-buried, leading to fears that others may be entombed.

“Rescuers found a total of three more people in cardiac arrest today and are now preparing to carry them down,” a police spokesman said in Nagano, central Japan, where the volcano sits.

Only doctors can declare someone officially dead, so first responders typically report that someone’s heart has stopped and they are not breathing.

About 930 troops, firefighters, police restarted their search yesterday morning after heavy rain had suspended their recovery operation since Thursday afternoon.

Local residents, Japanese government officials and rescuers standing by near the base of the mountain prayed in silence for one minute at 11:52am yesterday, the exact moment when the volcano exploded seven days earlier.

The volcano continues to belch steam and poisonous fumes, making a section near the crater inaccessible.

Meanwhile, a powerful typhoon off the Japanese coast looked set to batter the nation over the coming days.

Typhoon Phanfone, about 130 kilometres east of Minamidaito Island, is predicted to slam into Japan with strong winds and high waves this weekend or later, the meteorological agency said.

Packing gusts of up to 252kph, Phanfone moved northwest in the Pacific toward Japan’s southwest at 15kph.

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