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Over 30 people are feared dead after a violent eruption rocked Japan’s Mt. Ontake on Saturday, sending dozens of hikers scrambling for cover from heavy plumes of smoke and ash.
The eruption occurred at 11:53 AM local time as hundreds of dayhikers were climbing the popular peak to take in views of the colorful fall foliage.
On Monday, lingering ash clouds forced rescue crews to suspend searches near the summit of 10,062-foot Ontake, The New York Timesreports.
The Japanese government’s current death toll stands at 12, though that number is expected to rise as recovery efforts continue. In Japan, a person may not be declared dead until he/she has been examined by a doctor. According to CNN, at least 36 bodies have been located thus far.
Kuroda Terutoshi was on the mountain during the eruption and posted some terrifying eyewitness footage to YouTube:
Prior to Saturday, Mt. Ontake had not erupted since 1979. Seismologists from the Japanese Meteorological Society told NPR that they sent notices to nearby communities on September 11 warning of potential increases in seismic activity.