SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) The search for survivors of a volcanic eruption in japan has been suspended, with dozens of people believed to be dead.
Authorities have confirmed the deaths of four of the 31 people found unconscious near the peak of Mt Ontake, located 200 kilometres west of Tokyo.
The volcano caught hundreds of hikers unawares when it erupted on Sunday, spewing clouds of ash and rock into the sky.
Police said 31 people were found in “cardiopulmonary arrest” on Sunday, but declined to confirm their deaths pending a formal examination, as per Japanese custom.
Four victims were later transported to the foot of the mountain and officially pronounced dead, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported.
Rescue operations will resume on Monday after the search was called off due to high levels of toxic gas emanating from the volcano.
Meanwhile, authorities are still trying to confirm the whereabouts of 45 people.
It was not clear whether those 45 included the 31 people found in cardiopulmonary arrest.
Hundreds of people, including children, were stranded on Mt Ontake, a popular hiking site, after it erupted without warning, sending ash pouring down the slope for more than 3 kilometres.
Most made their way down later on Saturday but about 40 spent the night near the 3,067-metre peak. Some wrapped themselves in blankets and huddled in the basement of buildings.
More than 40 people were injured, several with broken bones. Experts said the eruption has now all but finished.
Volcanoes erupt periodically in Japan, but there have been no fatalities since 1991, when 43 people were killed by a pyroclastic flow at Mount Unzen in Nagasaki Prefecture.
While there had been a rising number of small earthquakes detected at Mt Ontake since September, the eruption could not have been predicted easily, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.