Japanese Volcanic Eruption

Mount Ontake Takes Japanese Hikers by Surprise

by Gabriel Casola (Contributor)


I almost thought it was the end of my life,” said Yuji Tsuno, a survivor who told TBS TV network what happened. A surprise remained underground at a popular climbing site located in Kiso, Japan for at least 250 hikers who walked on Mount Ontake. This surprise rose to their attention on Saturday, September 27th, when the volcano in the mountain erupted. The ground did not shake, and no warnings were brought to anyone’s attention in advance; Mount Ontake’s eruption just sprang up in the air out of the blue! Even Japanese seismologists who monitored volcanic activity were unable to predict the outcome which took place on Mount Ontake, as if the cause of the eruption was “magical”. What became of the hikers? What could they possibly do in the moment of a close-by, unexpected eruption? They could run, and they ran for their lives. Some hikers were able to escape the scene as soon as possible, whereas others did not.

Source: Atsushi Ueda
Source: Atsushi Ueda

200 Japanese soldiers and firefighters armed with gas detectors acting as rescue teams get on the scene. According to Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency, the rescue team found 59 hikers injured from the eruption and 27 of them severely injured. Yet as it stands, 16 people have been found to be missing. The rescue teams could not take their time with this rescue operation. On Monday, September 29th, the search for the climbers trapped by the eruption came to an end as the smoke from Mount Ontake’s summit continued to fill the air around the mountainous environment along with ash and toxic gases making it dangerous for rescue teams to stay too long. Reports indicate that the rescue team found a total of 47 people dead on the mountain. Yet only 12 of these bodies were able to be taken down by a helicopter. While a considerable eruption may have taken place on Mount Ontake in the fall 2014 year, historically this is not the first time this mountain has erupted. Before 2014, Mount Ontake had an earlier eruption occurring in 1979, only the outcome of this eruption was not nearly as bad as the one that would take place approximately 35 years later. This is because no one died when the volcano erupted in 1979.

How could this eruption happen without there being any significant seismetic indications detected earlier in advance? Could it have suddenly happened at the last minute? Was there a problem with the seismetic detectors? All of these questions remained unanswered, as people still seem to be puzzled by Mount Ontake’s eruption. As far as the future may go, we must believe in the best and hope that something like Mount Ontake does not take humanity and all other organisms belonging to nature by surprise again, for it could threaten the lives of too many.

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