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Several Injured After Volcanic Eruption At Japanese Ski Resort

Updated at 1:27 p.m. ET

The sudden eruption of a volcano overlooking a ski resort in central Japan rained ash on the slopes and may have triggered an avalanche that left at least one person missing and 10 others injured.

Japan's Meteorological Agency reports that Mount Kusatsu-Shirane, located about 120 miles northwest of Tokyo, erupted early Tuesday.

According to The Japan Times, the eruption at Kusatsu, Gunma prefecture, occurred just before 10 a.m. local time.

There were conflicting reports about the number of people caught in the avalanche. The newspaper quotes a local fire department official as saying that four people had been buried under the snow and one of them was still missing.

But Reuters, quoting Japan's Self-Defense Force, says six of its members engaged in a training exercise had been trapped in the snow. The SDF said all six were rescued, although some of them had sustained injuries.

Japanese media said as many as 15 had been injured, some of them hurt by falling volcanic rocks that also reportedly damaged roofs in the vicinity.

Video from the resort shows black rocks hurtling from the crater, followed by a curtain of black smoke.

According to JMA, it is too early to know for sure whether the eruption triggered the avalanche.

"Based on various measurements, we can say that the mountain appears to have erupted, but we are still trying to confirm facts on the ground," a JMA official said, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, in the Philippines, the country's most active volcano, Mount Mayon, belched lava and ash for a second day on Tuesday, forcing the evacuation of some 56,000 nearby villagers.

Mayon volcano erupts for the second straight day as lava cascades down its slopes on Tuesday, as seen from Legazpi city, Albay province.
Bullit Marquez / AP
Mayon volcano erupts for the second straight day as lava cascades down its slopes on Tuesday, as seen from Legazpi city, Albay province.

Mount Mayon is located near the town of Legazpi, about 200 miles southeast of Manila.

After a huge explosion on Monday, officials warned of another, larger, violent eruption in coming days or hours, including deadly pyroclastic flows of superheated toxic gas. The mountain began its rumblings on Jan. 13.

"We strongly advise all people, both residents and tourists, to avoid the danger zone, and airlines to avoid flying near the volcano summit," the head of the Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Renato Solidum, told reporters Tuesday.

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.

In September 2014, 63 people were killed near Japan's Mount Ontake, the worst volcanic disaster in the country in nearly a century.

In the Philippines, Mount Pinatubo, which erupted in 1991, was one of the worst eruptions in modern history, killing some 350 people.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.