A memorial service was held in Otaki, Nagano Prefecture, on Wednesday, to mark three years since Mt Ontake erupted, killing 58 hikers and leaving five others missing on the day.
Relatives of the victims, local residents, firefighters and police offered prayers and observed a minute's silence for victims at 11:52 a.m., the exact time that the volcano erupted on Sept 27, 2014, Fuji TV reported. A cenotaph and monument with names of the victims and missing people were unveiled at the scene.
The 3,067-meter volcano, which straddles Nagano and Gifu prefectures, was packed with hikers out to witness the region's spectacular autumn colors when it erupted.
Autopsies revealed that the hikers, many of whom had been enjoying lunch at the peak in the sunshine, died largely from injuries caused by stones hurled out in the initial explosive eruption.
More than 1,900 Self-Defense Force troops, firefighters and police were involved in the search and recovery operations but had to give up the search after weather conditions worsened in October, 2014.
Search operations for the six missing people resumed in July 2015, but the remains of only one person were found. The other five are believed to be still buried under muddy ash.© Japan Today