A volcanic eruption on Japan’s Mount Ontake spewed dense ash and small rocks into the air on Saturday, leaving seven people in unconscious state, while seriously injuring another eight and left over 250 stranded on the mountain which is 3,067 metres high and last erupted in 2007, authorities said.
According to the officials and media reports, a dense grey cloud of ash spread all over the sky above Mount Ontake on Saturday following the volcanic eruption.
The officials said that the residents and trekkers were prior warned of the falling rock and dense ash within a radius of four km (two and a half miles).
TV footage showed several hikers taking pictures of the natural occurrence.
“It was like thunder. I heard boom, boom… and then everything went dark,” said a woman who witnessed the first eruption at the volcano in seven years.
The volcano straddles Gifu and Nagano prefectures 200 km (125 miles) west of Tokyo. The Meteorological Agency said that the volcano erupted before midday sending ash pouring down the south slope of the mountain for over three km (two miles).
However, the television footage showed no sign of lava spreading near the mountain.
Meanwhile, the flight services were disrupted due to the dense clouds all over the sky above the mountain as the aircrafts were forced to divert their routes. But the officials at the Haneda airport of Tokyo and Japan Airlines confirmed that there were no changes in the timings of the flights in and out of Tokyo.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had issued instructions for mobilizing the military to initiate the rescue effort. Abe was on the visit to the United States and had returned on Saturday.
“Nearly 200 people are in the process of descending the mountain, but we are still trying to figure out details. I instructed to do all we can to rescue the people affected and secure the safety of the trekkers,” Abe told while briefing media persons.
The Nagano police have sent a rescue team of 80 to the mountain to help the climbers who were making their way down. The Kiso Prefectural Hospital, which is located near the mountain, had dispatched a medical emergency team.