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31 climbers found in 'cardiac arrest' on erupting volcano

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Scary. I understand that this is a special place and people want to go there, but I have to question why anyone would want to get that close to a volcano that has been active as recently as 7 years ago. (Unless you're a real live vulcanologist, and these people weren't.) There's no warning, no prediction, and no second chance. If you happen to be there at the wrong time, the outcome is likely to be tragic.

I'm hoping for the best for the survivors, and those not yet rescued.

-18 ( +8 / -26 )

@ John Becker -

Unless, you've taken a chance in life to enjoy something that for the most part you'll survive, it's pretty had to explain. Why do people strap on a parachute and jump out of a perfectly good plane? I been up and into a few 'semi-live Volcanoes in my life and we've had to get out quickly a few times for various reason but never this scary. What's life without a little excitement and the reward of beautiful imagery?

15 ( +17 / -2 )

“I’m worried that many more people are still on the mountain.”

Yeah, this is a concern, as this is climbing season, and there had to be more than 250 people enjoying a nice day.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Oh why do we get out of bed every morning?? There is NO warning that we will survive during the night, but we take our chances and these innocent mountain climbers down there in Gifu and Nagano were also just taking in the lovely weather, the beautiful views, when ALL HELL BROKE LOSE! That is life and that is DEATH, anything can happen to anyone at anytime! Do I wish there was an IPHONE APP saying, BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! Get off of that bloody mountain now?? Sure I do but we can rely only on APPS to live our lives. I do hope the people who are missing are ok and that worse than these volcanic explosions, the risk that they are all conncected to EARTHQUAKES, the land, the magma etc..is ALL CONNCECTED UNDER THE VERY EARTH we are standing on at this very moment so...

4 ( +8 / -4 )

NHK said 32 people had been seriously injured, including more than 10 who were unconscious. The broadcaster said one woman was now known to have died.

Condolences to the friends and family of the person who perished and prayers for the injured and those still stranded.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Ahmmm, do volcanoes give even subtle warnings when they are about to erupt? Isn't there abnormal seismic readings when this is about to happen? I am not understanding how this threat was not expected. I actually thought a volcano was one of those disasters that give even a little warning before. RIP to the one that lost his life..

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Volcanic eruptions aren't that simple. Tremors and deformation may occur but sometimes it means nothing and harmonic tremor may start as well as stop, so it is not that simple to predict an eruption. Volcanoes are very interesting and dynamic geologic features and even though we understand a lot of their morphology and eruption mechanics,, each time they surprise us with something new. Let's hope it subsides soon, so the emergency services and rescue can reach the trapped climbers and recover them safely.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

It's funny reading all these comments about how volcanic eruptions can be predicted. I'm sure the 250 people stranded on the mountain would be very interested in hearing your theories.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Four people were buried by the ash, with one having been dug out, Kyodo News reported.

Uh .... if the other three "buried" people were not "dug out", doesn't that account for four fatalities right there? Sloppy reporting.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The only tremors and or other indications before the actual erruption only occured 10 minutes before the actual erruption happened.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

My dad taught me not to live life afraid. It is sad this happened but they died doing what they loved. I have climbed Fuji-san twice once from the very bottom. I agree with the othere life is meant to be lived!

9 ( +9 / -0 )

The only tremors and or other indications before the actual erruption only occured 10 minutes before the actual erruption happened.

That short? Wow. I know that it's not unheard of for volcanoes to erupt with very little warning beforehand, but it's still surprising to hear about it. Volcanoes can be very hard to predict sometimes, while others erupt so predictably you could set your watch to it. With Japan being a part of the Pacific "Ring of Fire", that complicates the ability to predict eruptions. It's also not unheard of for a tremor to be what triggers a volcanic eruption, with the quake weakening the Caldera or opening a new fissure to the magma chamber. My prayers go out to those still on the mountain. I hope they make it out with no more loss of life.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Actually, I saw on the news Saturday night that the report of one dead was later retracted.

" if the other three "buried" people were not "dug out", doesn't that account for four fatalities right there?"

Fatalities are not reported as such until a body has been found and death confirmed. People who can't be accounted for are listed as missing.

This is a fluid situation with information still being gathered as to who was in the area, search and rescue work is currently underway, some people are unconscious in hospital and May or may not survive. We have to wait to find out just what numbers are involved, whether dead, missing, or injured.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Be careful and safe with the rescue.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

We have gone up on volcanos to hike on a day out. It really was fun, I always thought that it was pretty safe as long as no warnings were in place. Im praying these people get down safely and hope the report of one dead is not accurate.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A very sad occurrence on a very sunny day! May God forbid the rain to come. May the devastation and live lost be toa minimum!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I was planning to climb (hike, really) to the peak of one of Japan's volcanoes a few years back but on the day of we were politely refused at the bottom of the course due to signs of a minor eruption (release of gases, minor tremors). The same volcano has seen the deaths of numerous people (usually due to said gases), including vulcanologists, and as such they are pretty quick there to halt people from going up if there are any signs they could be hurt or killed. That said, the signs aren't always there until it's too late, and this is a prime example (this volcano, though, is far less active than the one I was to climb and so less likely to erupt).

So, it's either let people go up and do their thing as they like, when it seems safe, and hope for the best, or completely ban all travel up and down or nearby a mountain because it MIGHT some day erupt. Now, I can see refraining from building hotels right in the danger zone, but still.

Hope those still missing are found safe, and everyone injured recovers.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

The rescuers reached the summit area a while ago and have found a number of people in cardiac arrest (they'll be officially declared dead later). Exact numbers not released yet.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Just awful news. The death toll will now almost certainly be in the dozens, with so many mostly elderly hikers up there in a state of cardiac arrest. Rest in Peace to all these folk. The ironic thing is, the images coming through showing the eruption are just awesome and sensational - kudos to all the camera-people!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

RIP, Japan is sitting on many active volcanoes so people should be careful when hiking in Japanese volcanic mountains.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

30 is a lot of people to simultaneous suffer cardiac arrest, fumes or gass would I imagine be the culprit. Devastating news for many families.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

BurakuminDes "with so many mostly elderly hikers up there in a state of cardiac arrest."

I don't believe the ages of those found have been announced. There were many older hikers on the mountain, but also many middle-aged and young persons, as well as children. Rather than age I think the determining factor would have been how close they were and whether they had a chance to escape or not.

Cricky "30 is a lot of people to simultaneous suffer cardiac arrest, fumes or gass would I imagine be the culprit"

Gas could very well have killed some but your heart might also stop if you are suffocated by ash, hit in the head by even a smallish volcanic rock, or hit/crushed by a big rock. The term cardiac arrest just means they were found without a heartbeat. Random personnel are not authorized to officially declare death. That will be done later by doctors.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Am I right that they got no pulse from these hikers? I think other countries would just go ahead and call that dead: not much chance of someone coming back from more than a few minutes like that.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Why can't they just say they were found dead? I don't need a license or medical degree to be able to tell if somebody's dead.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

FYI, anyone thinking that it was wreck-less to be climbing that volcano since it was active only seven years ago should maybe take a good hard look at where the live. For most in Japan, one serious earthquake could be your last... mostly no warning there and earthquakes are quite common. Kind of puts things in perspective, yeah?

Climbing this volcano 'was' about as safe or safer than going for an equal distance walk around Tokyo. It's not likely going to kill you but you just never know when life is going to hand you a raw deal.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Since further eruptions can take place at any time, this volcano continues to be very dangerous, for all concerned.

Kudos to the hundreds of rescue workers risking their lives to save others.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

More than 30 people? I fear that's a warning for many more. A terrible tragedy.

While volcanoes are inherently unpredictable, studies of past eruptions at a particular volcano will give an indication of what is possible, this one last erupting in 2007. I just feel that this tragedy was in some way preventable. It's an active volcano. Not dormant. Not extinct. Far too casual an approach to a natural phenomena that is so very dangerous. An active volcano is defined by scientists as not only a volcano that is erupting but one that has erupted within historical time and is considered likely to do so in the future.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Climbing this volcano 'was' about as safe or safer than going for an equal distance walk around Tokyo. It's not likely going to kill you but you just never know when life is going to hand you a raw deal.

Raw deal, my foot! Do you know how much funding these prediction scientists get? Speaking as a taxpayer, I think I have a right to expect a bit more than "inherently unpredictable."

-14 ( +1 / -15 )

An official at the volcano division of the Japan Meteorological Agency said that, while there had been a rising number of small earthquakes detected at Ontake since 10 September, the eruption could not have been predicted easily.

It sounds like 3/11 reasoning. It is NOT your remit to work within defined criteria that when implemented still leaves people at risk. The volcano IS active. There was seismic activity from Sept 10th. YOU, the authorities HAVE to act.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

I just saw the youtube videos, its both spectacular and horrifying. I don't know how those hikers can endure the suffocation of the ash smokes and gases being released in the process. Hope more of them reaches safety and make it out of this whole.

Are there some sort of early warning systems installed for active volcanoes. I know US has these detection and early warning systems around active volcanic area and national parks.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

It is NOT your remit to work within defined criteria that when implemented still leaves people at risk. The volcano IS active. There was seismic activity from Sept 10th. YOU, the authorities HAVE to act.

I think a backlash is coming, and I hope it's a big one. Japan is a highly volcanic, extremely earthquake prone country, and Japanese people are peculiarly fond of trumpeting their supposedly superior early warning systems (in the face of all available evidence, as recent years have shown). I'm convinced that some of these quack scientists make their predictions by tossing a coin, and going out for lunch. They get big money for it, too.

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

Do you know how much funding these prediction scientists get? Speaking as a taxpayer, I think I have a right to expect a bit more than "inherently unpredictable."

Ridiculous. That money pays for research, there are no results guaranteed in the research. It's not like we already know there is a way to predict earthquakes, and these guys are simply trying to recreate results, rather they are doing research into something that has never been done before, and for all anyone knows, may not be able to be done. Demanding results because you are paying money is like stomping your feet and demanding the sky be green because you want it to.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

@ Strangerland: you do know the difference between active, dormant, and extinct volcanoes, don't you? If you do, then I'm pretty sure the average govt. vulcanologist does. It's hardly rocket science.

Some tough questions need to be asked, and soon.

-12 ( +2 / -12 )

It's not suffocation that kill, it's heat of ashes. If you inhale or get covered by fumes, I think instantly die from lung or bodily burn.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

@ Strangerland: you do know the difference between active, dormant, and extinct volcanoes, don't you? If you do, then I'm pretty sure the average govt. vulcanologist does.

What does that have to do with anything? You were whining that they aren't able to accurately predict eruptions ahead of time, and stating that they make their decisions by flipping a coin. That has absolutely nothing to do with knowing whether a volcano is active, dormant or extinct.

It's like saying 'I know that air is made of oxygen molecules, so why can't scientists make 100% safe nuclear reactors".

8 ( +10 / -2 )

@Tina

I think the carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide probably have more to do with it.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I think a backlash is coming, and I hope it's a big one. Japan is a highly volcanic, extremely earthquake prone country, and Japanese people are peculiarly fond of trumpeting their supposedly superior early warning systems (in the face of all available evidence, as recent years have shown).

I feel sure an anecdote about yet another of your students is brewing.

I'm convinced that some of these quack scientists make their predictions by tossing a coin, and going out for lunch. They get big money for it, too.

There's no pulling the wool over your eyes.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@ Strangerland: you do know the difference between active, dormant, and extinct volcanoes, don't you? If you do, then I'm pretty sure the average govt. vulcanologist does. It's hardly rocket science.

I guess the last time you learned about volcanoes was quite some time ago. Nowadays, it is unscientific to categorize them into active, dormant or extinct. Many scientists now consider volcanoes which have erupted within the last 10,000 years as active. However, the Yellowstone Supervolcano, which last erupted almost a million years ago, is very active.

Our understanding of earth science is still very rudimentary at this stage and it is impossible for any scientists to tell with any precision when is the next earthquake or volcanic eruption.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Horrifying video of the eruption by a climber (referenced in the article) who survived https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ea3uED1Zgc

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If this is in Italy, Volcanologists will be charged in the court for MANSLAUGHTER for failure to predict the eruption well ahead of time.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Problem is that folks don't understand that volcanos emit gases that are super toxic. This isn't some hollywood movie scenario and even one deep breath of a toxic laden emmision is deadly, game over. Many folks think that geological tourism is cool and something extraordinaire but the reality is that one mistake or even one deep breath of a toxic emission is the last breath you will take. Stay home folks and watch it on the documentary channel.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

AU_user_since_1998 a "If this is in Italy, Volcanologists will be charged in the court for MANSLAUGHTER for failure to predict the eruption well ahead of time."

Interestingly enough, today I skimmed an article about a mud crater that erupted on Sicily, killing a couple of kids who were visiting an area freely accessible to tourists.

Getting back to Japan, I don't know what an appropriate amount of funding would be for this field, but I'm pretty sure expecting a system to be perfected because it is tax funded is unrealistic. Who is to pay for the research to improve the knowledge/systems?

Anyway, that Ontake erupted mid-day on a Saturday during Autumn foliage season was almost a guarantee of multiple fatalities/injuries. If only it had happened a few days before or after, it's likely the toll would not have been so high. It was sadly the worst possible timing.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Sadly "in cardiac arrest" may be a get-ready-for-the-bad-news euphemism for 'deceased'. I have heard it before in reports. The SDF brought four down and gave up any more attempts due to rising sulphur levels. That means trained soldiers could not risk an environment where 27 people remained in 'cardiac arrest'. Doesn't sound good.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

If a volcano is active any hikers / climbers should be given the information and made aware of the possible dangers of climbing / hiking said volcano. Common sense dictates it. This volcano was showing signs of activity from September 10th, no one took it upon themselves to give an advisory. That's incompetent NO matter WHAT the manual says and no matter HOW . The prediction of volcanic eruptions is an established science, it's nothing like the chance act of flipping a coin and being flippant towards the actual reality of the science does not change the facts. Eruptions can and are predicted. This volcano was showing signs of activity from September 10th. No chance should have been taken with people’s lives and the hike should have been closed or at the very least warning given. For a country that closes its highest mountain 'for safety' in the winter this lack of care on the Japanese authorities’ part is incompetent at best. Those trying to bully those who are backed up by the science of the facts, well, just see when the whole system changes and some somewhere has to say, moushiwake arimasen deshita. QED.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Given Japan being located on one of the most active parts of the so-called Ring of Fire, we have to say there is no such thing as a dormant volcano in any of the Japanese home islands. Every volcanic mountain in Japan could erupt on short notice--probably including Mt. Daisen in Tottori Prefecture, which last erupted around 10,000 years ago.

As such, geologists have to carefully monitor the seismic activity near volcanic mountains in Japan. Any precursor earthquakes near the volcanic cone should be a warning to get people out of there immediately until the eruption danger is over--and sadly, given there were precursor seismic activity around Mount Ontake, they did not evacuate everyone off the mountain in time.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Raw deal, my foot! Do you know how much funding these prediction scientists get?

Not really, but here's one estimate of salaries. Funding mostly covers equipment and some travel, from what I hear.. Primary employers are government research facilities, which are sparse, and universities.

http://volcano.oregonstate.edu/oldroot/volcanologist/6.html

Speaking as a taxpayer, I think I have a right to expect a bit more than "inherently unpredictable."

Well, you don't, and I doubt much of your taxes, if you really pay them, goes to this field. It's a developing and necessary field, but it isn't a perfected field yet, though it's a lot further along than it used to be.

You really don't have much control over your taxes in any case, but not supporting research to make our lives safer and better isn't something to brag about.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Life's surprises or should we be surprised? Mother Nature continues to wreak havoc. Very sad for those just out to enjoy the scenery. Who knows what is next? Could it be a major earthquake? Wish I could look into a crystal ball at times.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

That this volcano would suddenly spring to life with no warning seems odd as people have suggested. I hate to suggest this, but it wouldn't be the first time that warning signs in nature were ignored (or at least fingers crossed) at a peak time in the lucrative tourist trade.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

And in this kind of seismic environment they talk about using nuclear power?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

That this volcano would suddenly spring to life with no warning seems odd as people have suggested. I hate to suggest this, but it wouldn't be the first time that warning signs in nature were ignored (or at least fingers crossed) at a peak time in the lucrative tourist trade.

I just watched the news, and as people have mentioned, there were quite a few earthquakes near the mountain a couple of weeks ago, but they died down, and no crustal movement was observed, so no alert was issued. They are considering making information like the fact that there were earthquakes more accessible to climbers, so that they can make more informed decisions about climbing. This wasn't a "magmatic" eruption, but rather one in which the magma heated water, which then burst its top like a pressure cooker - suddenly. This is why the clouds were white, not black. They are saying that an eruption of similar size is still possible.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Problem is that folks don't understand that volcanos emit gases that are super toxic. This isn't some hollywood movie scenario and even one deep breath of a toxic laden emmision is deadly, game over.

Maybe they understand but are willing to take that risk. Risk taking does not always result in a successful outcome, but if such accidents are rare, and death by volcano is relatively rare, even in Japan where there are many volcanoes, it's not unreasonable to do it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

RIP for these unfortunate climbers who lost their lives,hsut at a wrong time and place.

My heart goes to their families suffered in this tragic event.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Farmboy, that is what is worrying me, I did not see any MAGMA, so as you say it was not a magmatic eruption but more like gas and water etc..but with that deadly gas and super heated steam, that is enough to kill anybody who was too close to this explosion. I feel sad for all of these innocent victims but what makes me more worried is that this may be conncected to worse things, meaning BIG EARTHQUAKES. I hope and pray that I am wrong.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's been officially announced that the four people in "cardiac arrest" that were brought down the mountain today, are confirmed deaths. It was obvious as they were taken directly to a makeshift morgue at an elementary school rather than to hospital. NHK didn't give any info on gender, age, of names.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Ridiculous. That money pays for research, there are no results guaranteed in the research. It's not like we already know there is a way to predict earthquakes, and these guys are simply trying to recreate results, rather they are doing research into something that has never been done before, and for all anyone knows, may not be able to be done. Demanding results because you are paying money is like stomping your feet and demanding the sky be green because you want it to.

Yup. Couldn't agree more. Ridiculous barely scratches the surface. The lengths to which some folks will go to complain is mind boggling. Not to mention irritating.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

It was a phreatic eruption - ground water heated by magma.

Phreatic eruptions are harder to predict than magmatic ones and have been responsible for the deaths of several volcanologists over the years. They often produce clouds of hydrogen sulphide, which could have been responsible for the deaths of those climbers.

Blaming volcanologists for this is just silly. I studied volcanology at university and I don't envy them their jobs. Japan has such complex geology it is a thankless task.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Wow! 31 people in cardiac arrest? Of course, this means they are dead. Firefighters and paramedics cannot declare a person dead. It has to be done by a doctor. This is a major tragedy! Hopefully, they will find survivors and not more 'cardiac arrests'.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Firefighters and paramedics cannot declare a person dead. well that is just plain stupid, if a person who has CPR skills and can administer CPR over a given period of time, and then there is still no pulse/breathing then there DEAD! 12mins of no oxygen then your brains dead anyways

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

All of the four dead brought down Sun were males. I was just coming out of the shower when the 11:00 NHK news was giving the names of two of them, a 23-year-old from Nagoya and a 45-year-old. They might have given details about the others, but if so, I missed it. They don't seem to have put this update up on NHK online yet though.

Earlier I read accounts on Yahoo News from two women in their 60s. One had just stopped for lunch. She grabbed her rucksack and placed in over her head just before a rock crashed into it flattening her thermos flask. The other was buried in ash and the bodies of two dead people who fell on top of her. She was very lucky as someone was able to pull her out. Even those sheltering in huts weren't safe with large rocks crashing through the roofs, ash and fumes coming through the windows. Horrifying tales. I'm beginning to think it was lucky that there were as many survivors as there were.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

wtfjapan "Firefighters and paramedics cannot declare a person dead. well that is just plain stupid, if a person who has CPR skills and can administer CPR over a given period of time, and then there is still no pulse/breathing then there DEAD! 12mins of no oxygen then your brains dead anyways"

Interesting that so many seem to have such difficulty grasping the difference between --determining-- and --declaring-- whether a person is dead. Of course the rescue people could tell that the victims were dead. That's why they took them straight to the morgue not to the hospital. And I would venture it's highly unlikely that they wasted their time and energy doing CPR on people who had almost certainly been in that state for more than 24 hours.

Heck, I don't have any medical training but I'm confident I could probably determine whether someone is dead with at least 98% accuracy. But that still doesn't give me the authority to issue a death certificate, or make an official announcement as to how many had died.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

At least the number of dead and people in cardiac arrest, four and 27 respectively, does not seem to have increased this morning according to news reports from 9 am - and I guess they were up there since first light. Looking at the videos I was scared that the numbers might double or triple. Fingers crossed.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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