- Twin natural disasters hit a ski resort in Gunma, Japan.
- Mount Kusatsu-Shirane erupted, followed shortly by an avalanche.
- Weather authorities say the events were almost certainly linked.
- A soldier who was training nearby was killed.
- At least 14 other people have been injured.
A Japanese soldier has died, and at least 14 people have been injured, following an avalanche near a ski resort northwest of Tokyo.
Mount Kusatsu-Shirane, an active volcano, erupted around 9.59 a.m. Tuesday local time.
It is likely to have caused the subsequent avalanche, according to the country’s Kyodo news agency, which cited national weather authorities.
The 7,090-foot volcano in Gunma prefecture is located near multiple mountains, which also run ski resorts.
Grainy footage from the Meteorological Agency, obtained by Reuters, showed a plume of black smoke wafting across one of the pistes in the area.
NEW: Multiple injuries reported after volcanic eruption near Japanese ski resort. https://t.co/p9HeC7UyjH
The Japan Meteorological Agency says snow-covered Mount Kusatsu-Shirane erupted around 10 a.m. local time. pic.twitter.com/jAu0hb7MN0
— ABC News (@ABC) January 23, 2018
One skier told state broadcaster NHK, according to Reuters: “There was this huge boom, and a big plume of totally black smoke rose up. I had absolutely no idea what had happened.”
A soldier, who was training nearby, was killed in the avalanche, the Japan’s armed forces said. Five other soldiers who were training with them were also injured.
Four people who were riding a ski lift at the nearby resort at the time were also injured, the BBC reported. It wasn’t clear who the other six were.
The roof of a rest house at the resort were also damaged by falling rocks, a local fire department official told Kyodo.
About 80 people had been taking shelter there, and as of Tuesday afternoon were still trapped and awaiting rescue, Reuters said.