January 23, 2018

JAPAN: Deadly Volcano Eruption In Japan On Tuesday Confounds Forecasters; One Killed, 11 Hurt In Ski Area Northwest Of Tokyo.

dutchsinse published on 1/23/2018 -- West Pacific gone silent + 9 volcanoes erupting simultaneously

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Nikkei Asian Review
written by Staff
Wednesday January 24, 2018

TOKYO -- A volcano in central Japan ski country erupted without warning Tuesday morning, killing one person, injuring 11 others and sending authorities scrambling to determine the nature of the surprise blast.

Mount Kusatsu-Shirane, about 150km northwest of Tokyo, is one of 50 active volcanoes under constant watch by the Japan Meteorological Agency. But the eruption occurred near a lake about 2km from one the agency had deemed more dangerous and kept under video surveillance.

Falling rocks killed a member of the Ground Self-Defense Force undergoing a ski training exercise and injured five other service members, two gravely, the Ministry of Defense said.

Around 80 people, many skiers, stranded at a lodge near the mountain's peak were evacuated, some by helicopter.

"I thought I was going to die here," said a 28-year-old woman on a family skiing trip.

The volcano blew as they were heading up the mountain on an aerial tramway. "You could hear the volcanic rocks hitting the car as it shook," she said. The debris shattered windows on the tramway and tore through the ceiling of one of the stations.

Further explosions were unlikely, the meteorological agency said, but it warned of the possibility of falling rocks within a 2km radius of the eruption site. Popular hot springs in the area, including Kusatsu Onsen, lie further away and are not at risk, according to the agency.

An avalanche was reported at an area ski resort, but what if any connection there is to the eruption remains unclear.

Caught off guard

The site of Tuesday's blast last erupted about 3,000 years ago, scientists say. But the turquoise blue caldera lake the meteorological agency was observing erupted in the 1980s, and recent conditions had suggested another explosion there was likely.

That the explosion came where it did was "unexpected," said Yoshikazu Kikawada, a professor at Tokyo's Sophia University who studies volcanic activity. "The observation network was set up to encircle" the lake that was considered the more likely blast site, Kikawada said.

An immediate warning was not possible because the meteorological agency could not initially confirm that an eruption had taken place. It has since raised the alert level to 3 on a scale of 5, imposing restrictions on entering the area, but that would have been difficult to do before the eruption, the agency's director of volcanology, Makoto Saito, told reporters Tuesday.

The agency has dispatched a team to survey the rocks expelled in the blast, which were detected more than 1km from the eruption point. Reports of volcanic ash in a town 8km to the northeast were also confirmed. The mountain, which consists of multiple volcanic cones, straddles Gunma and Nagano prefectures.

The agency is working to get a clearer understanding of the blast, but suspects it was a phreatic or "steam-blast" eruption of surface or ground water heated by magma. Such eruptions give fewer telltale signs than magma ones, which can be preceded by active expulsions of smoke or gas. A 2014 phreatic eruption at Japan's Mount Ontake killed 58 people and left five missing.
Time Now News, India
written by Reuters staff
Tuesday January 23, 2018

Tokyo: Rocks spat out by an erupting volcano rained down on skiers at a mountain resort in central Japan on Tuesday and one skier was missing following an avalanche that occurred shortly after the volcano exploded and engulfed nearly a dozen skiers.

Six of those trapped were members of Japan's Ground Self Defence Force (SDF) engaged in training maneuvers, the Defence Ministry said. All six were rescued but some were injured, it said.

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Japanese media reported that as many as 15 people were injured, many apparently due to the volcanic rocks. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said two people were seriously injured, with further details yet to be confirmed.

Three others caught in the avalanche were also rescued, Japanese media said. More searchers, including SDF members, were heading to the site near the hot springs resort town of Kusatsu to look for the missing skier as heavy snow fell.

Kusatsu-Shirane, a 2,160-metre (7,090 ft) volcano, appeared to have erupted on Tuesday morning, the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) said. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency warned that rocks could be thrown as far as 2 km (1 mile) from the peak.

Video footage from the top of the resort's gondola showed black rocks plummeting through the sky, followed by a curtain of black smoke. A photograph taken at the site on national broadcaster NHK showed a gondola with a shattered window.

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It was unclear whether the avalanche was caused by the volcanic activity, but they occurred nearly simultaneously. "Based on various measurements, we can say that the mountain appears to have erupted, but we are still trying to confirm facts on the ground," a JMA official said.

The warning level for the peak was raised to 3, warning people not to climb the mountain. Four people riding a gondola on the slopes were injured by broken glass, chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference, but he had no further details.

Japan has 110 active volcanoes and monitors 47 of them around the clock. In September 2014, 63 people were killed on Mount Ontake, the worst volcanic disaster in Japan for nearly 90 years.

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