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Rescuers trying to reach victims of Japanese volcano eruption

September 29, 2014, 9:39 UTC+3 TOKYO

Several hundred climbers were caught by the sudden eruption of Mount Ontake, 200km west of Tokyo

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TOKYO, September 29. /ITAR-TASS/. About 550 Japanese military, police and firefighters launched on Monday an operation at the summit of a Japanese volcano that started erupting on Saturday, to reach 27 people showing no signs of life.

The teams are climbing three separate routes. Plans are to airlift the bodies down on army helicopters.

On Sunday, the rescue operation was suspended due to a high concentration of toxic gases. At present, Mount Ontake volcano continues emitting smoke and hot volcanic stones are scattered within a radius of4km. Earlier, four bodies were found on mountain slopes.

Several hundred climbers were caught by the sudden eruption of Mount Ontake. Most of them managed to descend, but several dozen people were blocked on top because of poor visibility and a concentration of toxic gases in the air.

Most of them were rescued. More than 70 people sought medical aid and more than 40 were hospitalized in a grave condition.

Mount Ontake is the second tallest volcano in Japan after Mount Funi and is a popular destination for hikers. It is located 200km west of Tokyo. The last major eruption took place in 1979, while the latest smaller scale activity occurred in 2007.

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