Japan volcano: Rescuers resume search for survivors

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Japan volcano: Rescuers resume search for survivors

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Japanese search and rescue teams continue to scour an area around Mount Ontaka for hikers caught up in the country’s latest volcanic eruption.

Four people are confirmed dead and a further 27 are presumed to have died when clouds of rock and ash suddenly burst out at the weekend.

Japanese authorities only confirm a death after a medical examination.

More than 40 people were injured and rescue teams say they are still trying to confirm the whereabouts of several others.

The eruption caught hundreds of hikers unawares and many were left stranded on the mountain for several hours. Many people were forced to walk through clouds of volcanic ash as they made their descent to safety.

Rescue efforts were abandoned for a while due to rising levels of toxic gas near the peak.

Ontake, Japan’s second-highest volcano, last erupted seven years ago. Its last major eruption was in 1979.

Experts say it was hard to have predicted the eruption, despite tremors in the area this month, since there were no other changes in the mountain.