A 49 year-old man has died after a volcano erupted near a Japanese ski resort. 11 further people have been injured, three severely, while around 80 people were trapped at the top of the cable car at the Kokusai Ski resort in central Japan.
The 2,160 metre Kusatsu-Shirane volcano erupted at approximately 10am local time on Tuesday morning. The eruption sent flaming rocks into the sky, some of which fell on the nearby ski resort, which sits 93 miles north-west of Tokyo.
It’s reported that the man killed, a member of Japan’s Self Defence Force – a branch of the Japanese military – was hit by a falling rock from the volcano while on a training exercise in the area when the eruption occurred. Five of those injured in the event were also SDF personnel.
Some conflicting reports also suggest that the eruption triggered an avalanche at the ski resort. Officials in the area are still investigating the scene to determine if the eruption did trigger an avalanche, and if it’s that what killed the soldier.
Footage of the smoking Kusatsu-Shirane appears to show a vent on the side of the volcano that looks like it has blown out, as clouds of black ash and rocks pour down. State broadcaster NHK reports that some debris from the volcano has been found almost a mile from the site.
Authorities have now issued a level three alert, following the eruption, which means that residents should not approach the volcano, which suggests it may still be unstable, and more rocks could yet fall from the vent. The highest level on the scale is five.
Our thoughts are with the friends and families of those affected by these tragic events.