One killed as avalanche engulfs skiers after volcano erupts at Japanese resort

One killed as avalanche engulfs skiers after volcano erupts at Japanese resort

A volcanic eruption near a ski resort in Japan has triggered an avalanche, killing one and injuring more than a dozen skiers.

At around 10:05 a.m., local fire authorities received an emergency call reporting that the eruption had caused an avalanche at an worldwide ski resort in the Gunma town of Kusatsu.

Six Japan Self-Defence Forces members who had been conducting a drill were trapped by the avalanche, Efe news quoted the Ministry of Defence as saying.

The eruption near the Kusatsu ski resort killed one person and injured 11 others.

The agency said the eruption and the avalanche could not be linked immediately.

Rocks spewed out of the volcano, sending people running for cover as they prompted clouds of snow to rise into the air as they made an impact.

Video footage showed skiers gliding down the slopes as black rocks plummeted from the skies and snow billowed up as they struck the ground, sometimes just missing skiers.

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Several people were hit by volcanic rocks raining down from the sky. A photograph on national broadcaster NHK showed a gondola with a shattered window.

Japan's Meteorological Agency has warned people not to climb the mountain, saying further eruptions can not be ruled out.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the country's Kusatsu-Shirane volcano in "appears to have erupted", however, it can not yet be confirmed whether this triggered the avalanche. Officials are still investigating and originally thought an avalanche had caused the carnage but later corrected that account.

A local fire department official says about four people were carried away by the avalanche, of which one was buried.

The alert level in the area has been raised to three out of a possible five following the frightening incident.

Japan's Self-Defence Forces members take part in rescue work at a ski resort nearby Kusatsu-Shirane volcano in Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, in this photo taken by Kyodo on January 23, 2018.

Both Japan and the Philippines are situated on the western edge of a seismic and volcanically active region known as the Ring of Fire that circles the Pacific basin. The last major incident in the country occurred in 2014 with the eruption of Mount Ontake, which resulted in the deaths of 63 people.