Several Injured After Volcano Suddenly Erupts at Japanese Ski Resort

Ashes from Mount Kusatsu-Shirane cover near its summit after its eruption in Kusatsu, Gunma prefecture, central Japan, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. A disaster official said the volcano erupted and caused avalanche near the ski resort. (Suo Takekuma/Kyodo News via AP)

The sudden eruption of a volcano overlooking a ski resort in central Japan rained ash on the slopes and apparently triggered an avalanche that left at least one person missing and 10 others injured.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency, or JMA, reports that Mount Kusatsu-Shirane, located about 120 miles northwest of Tokyo, erupted early Tuesday.

According to The Japan Times, the eruption at Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture, occurred just before 10 a.m. local time.

There were conflicting reports on the number of people caught in the avalanche. The newspaper quotes a local fire department official as saying four people were buried under the snow and that one of them was still missing.

However Reuters, quoting Japan’s Self-Defense Force says six of its members, engaged in a training exercise, had been trapped in the snow. SDF said all six were rescued, but some of them had sustained injuries.

Japanese media said as many as 15 had been injured, some of them hurt by falling volcanic rocks that also reportedly damaged roofs in the vicinity.

Video from the resort shows black rocks hurtling from the crater, followed by a curtain of black smoke.

According to JMA, it is too early to know for sure if the eruption triggered the avalanche.

“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,” a JMA official said, according to Reuters.

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SOURCE: NPR, Scott Neuman