Photo: Kyodo News

Rescue workers carry a climber rescued from Mount Ontake into an ambulance, in Kiso, Nagano prefecture in central Japan, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. Mount Ontake erupted shortly before noon Saturday, spewing large white plumes of gas and ash high into the sky and blanketing the surrounding area in ash. Rescue workers have found 30 or more people unconscious and believed to be dead near the peak of an erupting volcano in central Japan, local government and police said. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT ORG XMIT: TOK820

36 hikers are feared dead after Japan's second biggest volcano erupted on Saturday.

Mount Ontake began belching huge quantities of smoke and ash on Saturday, leaving dozens stranded near the top, buried knee deep in ash, according to the BBC.

Photo: Kyodo News

Dense plumes are spewed out from Mount Ontake as the volcanic mountain erupts in central Japan Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014. The 3,067-meter (10,062-foot) peak erupted in spectacular fashion on Saturday, catching climbers by surprise and stranding dozens injured people in areas that rescue workers have been unable to reach. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT ORG XMIT: TOK833

The 10,062ft high peak was the first Japanese volcano to erupt since 1991. Just 125 miles west of Tokyo, it's a popular climbing destination with at least 250 people said to be climbing its slopes when it erupted.

One witness said he'd seen a boy shouting "It's hot" and "I can't breathe" before the ash clouds descended and everything went quiet, according to the Yomiuri newspaper.

There are warnings of further eruptions and volcanic ash may land as far as away as 4km from the mountain's peak.

Photo: Kyodo News

Firefighters and members of Japan's Self-Defense Forces conduct a rescue operation at a cabin near the peak of Mount Ontake as plumes of smoke billow in central Japan, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. Mount Ontake erupted shortly before noon Saturday, spewing large white plumes of gas and ash high into the sky and blanketing the surrounding area in ash. Rescue workers on Sunday found more than 30 people unconscious and believed to be dead near the peak of an erupting volcano, a Japanese police official said. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT ORG XMIT: TOK822

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