Japan Volcano Eruption Kills Soldier and Injures Skiers at Resort


Mount Kusatsu-Shirane, top left, which erupted on Tuesday, is about 100 miles northwest of Tokyo.

Kyodo, via Reuters

A volcano erupted Tuesday in Japan, killing one soldier who was training nearby and injuring more than a dozen people, including several at a ski resort, officials said.

The eruption of Mount Kusatsu-Shirane triggered avalanches and launched debris that smashed a gondola and hit people on ski slopes.

Seven members of Japan’s military who were training in the area were caught in one of the avalanches and had to be taken to a hospital, the Ministry of Defense said. One of the soldiers was later confirmed to have died, officials said.

Ten people were hit by rocks at the ski resort, injuring five seriously, the public broadcaster NHK reported, citing the police. Five others were hurt by debris that smashed the windows of a gondola.

The volcano is about 100 miles northwest of Tokyo in Gunma Prefecture. Photos showed ash covering a large area of the mountainside below the three large craters at its peak. After the eruption about 10 a.m. Tuesday, officials raised the alert level, restricting access to the area.

“Seeing cinders falling in the videos, it is certain that an explosive eruption occurred,” Toshitsugu Fujii, a volcanologist and professor emeritus of the University of Tokyo, told NHK. He said that the volcano had erupted 3,000 years ago but that no activity had been detected recently.

“We need to be warned, as there may be another eruption,” he said.

Separately, the Mayon volcano in the Philippines continued to billow ash on Tuesday, one day after officials raised the alert level to four, the second-highest level. That means the volcano is in a period of “intense unrest” and could erupt hazardously at any time.

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