Japanese volcano erupts, killing 1 and triggering avalanche at ski resort

By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
January 24, 2018, 1:27:20 AM EST

Kusatsu-Shirane, a volcano in Japan, erupted on Tuesday spewing debris onto a nearby ski resort and triggering an avalanche.

At least 12 people were injured by the falling debris including eight soldiers that were performing ski training, according to the Associated Press.

Another soldier was killed by injuries suffered during the eruption. Several of the injuries to other soldiers are serious and include broken bones.

AP 1/23

Volcanic ashes cover the slopes of a ski resort in Kusatsu, Gunma prefecture, central Japan, after Mount Kusatsu-Shirane erupted Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. (Suo Takekuma/Kyodo News via AP)

Prior to the eruption, only the crater of the volcano had been off limits due to minimal levels of volcanic activity.

The blast of rock and ash from the volcano left the otherwise white mountain side a dark gray or black.

Town officials say that all people on the mountain at the time of the eruption have now been accounted for including about 80 who were briefly trapped at a gondola station at the top of the ski slopes, according to the AP.

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Kusatsu-Shirane last erupted in 1983. An eruption of Mount Ontake in 2014 killed 60 people.

The eruption occurred less than 24 hours after a major storm brought 23 cm (9 inches) of snow to Tokyo, the most recorded in the city in nearly 4 years.

Snow and gusty winds will continue the next several days across western and northern Japan.

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