Fatalities on Mount Otakesan
The list of fatalities on Ontakesan has grown to over 30 climbers, according to last night’s news in Japan and this English-language report. Apparently, most of the victims died of cardiac and respiratory problems after inhaling ash in the pyroclastic flow and ash cloud of the eruption itself.
Climbers and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), which monitors 47 active volcanoes in Japan, had only about 12 minutes’ warning that Ontakesan would erupt. Apparently this type of eruption, a so-called phreatic eruption which involves steam rather than magma, gives few telltale warnings before blowing.
The Japan Meteorological Agency has put Ontakesan on a Level 3 alert, advising everyone to stay away from the mountain. Here’s the English-language volcano advisory webpage at JMA