Japanese authorities have issued a ‘level-3 volcanic alert on a scale of 5’ for Mount Kusatsu-Shirane, in Gunma Prefecture, following an eruption on Tuesday morning that killed a soldier and triggered an avalanche. You can find the FCO summary warning below.

Over a dozen skiers at the Kusatsu Kokusai Ski Resort were injured by the avalanche and falling volcanic rocks. The avalanche occurred about half an hour after the initial eruption.

Members of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) were undertaking winter training exercises on the adjoining slopes. Six of the soldiers were caught in the avalanche, and sustained broken bones. They were all rescued, but one later died from his injuries. It is not clear whether more skiers on the mountain were part of the GSDF or not – accounts vary.

Around 100 people were evacuated from the area and ‘at least 78 skiers were still trapped at a rest house on top of the mountain by Tuesday afternoon.’ There are unconfirmed reports that a handful of people were injured when a rock shattered the glass in the gondola they were travelling in. Rocks, debris and ash complicated the rescue operation.

From the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Latest update: Summary – Mount Kusatsu-Shirane, near Kusatsu ski resort, in Gunma Prefecture erupted on Tuesday 23 January with reports of people injured. Japan’s Meteorological Agency has issued a level-3 volcanic alert on a scale of 5, telling people not to approach and a warning about the danger of falling volcanic rocks. If you are in the area you should monitor local media reports and follow the advice of local authorities.

from Travel Advice Summary, which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/japan


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