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Skiers race for their lives to flee volcanic eruption

January 25, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A fearsome event on Japan’s ski slopes began when a  volcano above a ski resort blasted into life, producing a loud explosion, a dense plume of black smoke, a rain of hot rocks and an avalanche.

A soldier was killed and about 12 skiers were hurt, five seriously, as the avalanche tore down the slopes, overtaking the skiers. Mount Kusatsu-Shirane, 2160 metres in height, also blasted ash debris high into the air.

A few moments after the eruption, hot black rocks came raining down like miniature meteorites, slamming into skiers and smashing a ski gondola at the resort in Gunma, northwest of Tokyo. Four people in the gondola were cut by smashed glass.

YouTube video footage shot from the top of the resort’s gondola and edited by the Guardian showed some of the action.

“There was this huge boom, and a big plume of totally black smoke rose up,” one skier told Japanese news outlet NHK. “I had absolutely no idea what had happened.”

Japan’s meteorological agency (JMA) warned of a risk of further avalanches.

Japan has over 100 active volcanoes, 10% of the world’s total and more than almost any other country. Indonesia has more volcanoes, but not many people go skiing in Indonesia.

Written by Peter Needham

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