Tag Archives: Japan

BBC News – Japan volcano: Search suspended as toll rises | #BBCNews #Japan #MountOntake #Volcano


Survivors filmed the eruption at close quarters and described volcanic rock falling “like hailstones”, as Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports

Rescue teams searching Japan’s Mount Ontake for missing climbers suspended operations as the volcano continued to shoot gas, rocks and ash into the air.

At least 36 people are believed to have died when Mt Ontake erupted unexpectedly on Saturday.

Hundreds of hikers were on the volcano when it erupted. Most walked down to safety but others were trapped.

Dozens of people were injured in the incident on the mountain, which is about 200km (125 miles) west of Tokyo.

Mount Ontake eruption

Early on Monday helicopters began searching, as smoke rose from the peak.

Hundreds of firefighters, police and troops were involved in the operation, which later had to be halted because of the adverse conditions.

Twelve bodies have been recovered so far. Another 24 are reported to be on the mountain, after five more were located during the course of the day.

Monday's search centred on a mountain lodge on Mount OntakeMonday’s search centred on a mountain lodge on Mount Ontake.Eventually toxic gases and ash forced the search teams to suspend their operationEventually toxic gases and ash forced the search teams to suspend their operation.

Some of the bodies were found in a lodge near the summit and others were buried in ash up to 50cm (20in) deep, Japanese media reported.

Hikers who made it down the mountain told how a rolling cloud of volcanic debris had swept down its flanks, smothering everything in its path.

“Some people were buried in ash up to their knees and the two in front of me seemed to be dead,” a woman hiker told the broadcaster Asahi.

The bodies of some of the victims were brought down from the volcano on SundayThe bodies of some of the victims were brought down from the volcano on Sunday.The volcano erupted unexpectedly on Saturday leaving many hikers trappedThe volcano erupted unexpectedly on Saturday leaving many hikers trapped.

Another told how she had heard the last moments of a victim hit by a cascade of rocks.

“There was someone lying outside the hut after being hit in the back,” she said.

“He was saying ‘It hurts, it hurts’, but after about half an hour he went quiet.”

Another survivor told the Yomiuri newspaper he had seen a boy shouting “It’s hot” and “I can’t breathe” near the peak, before ash clouds turned everything black and silent.

Relatives of those still missing are facing an anxious wait for news at a nearby elementary school.

One tearful father clutched a photograph of his son and the young man’s girlfriend, neither of whom have been heard of since the eruption.

An elderly woman told the Asahi network that her son had called her just after the eruption.

“He told me it erupted. He said ‘It’s over. I’m dying now’ and then the line was cut off,” she said.

Japan’s meteorological agency has forecast further eruptions and warned that volcanic debris may settle within 4km (2.5 miles) of the peak.


BBC News.

Central Japan volcano Mt. Ontake erupts during climbing season | #Japan #MountOntake #Volcano


Mount Ontake straddling Nagano and Gifu prefectures erupts in this image taken by a climberMount Ontake straddling Nagano and Gifu prefectures erupts in this image taken by a climber. (Image from YouTube)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Mt. Ontake, a central Japan volcano popular with tourists particularly in the fall, erupted without warning just before noon Saturday, burying at least four people in ash and leaving several others unconscious.

Of those who were buried, one has been dug out so far but remains unconscious, according to the National Police Agency, while a local government reported seven people as unconscious and one seriously injured following the 11:53 a.m. eruption.

Smoke billows from Mount Ontake following its eruption in this picture taken in Gero, Gifu Prefecture, from a Mainichi aircraft on the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2014.Smoke billows from Mount Ontake following its eruption in this picture taken in Gero, Gifu Prefecture, from a Mainichi aircraft on the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2014. (Mainichi)

Smoke was observed by a government camera billowing down more than 3 kilometers on the south face of the 3,067 meter volcano, the weather agency said. Smoke was also seen rising to an altitude of 1 km, with ash and rocks falling near the mountaintop, local police said.

The Japan Meteorological Agency forecast further eruptions that may affect nearby residents and warned of large volcanic cinders falling within a 4 km radius of the crater.

Smoke billows from craters on Mount Ontake in this picture taken from a Mainichi aircraft on the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2014Smoke billows from craters on Mount Ontake in this picture taken from a Mainichi aircraft on the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2014. (Mainichi)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, speaking to reporters after his return from U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York, said he has ordered the Self-Defense Forces be sent in to aid rescue efforts and ensure the safety of climbers.

Over 250 climbers were trapped on the mountain, which straddles Nagano and Gifu prefectures, the Nagano police said.

Smoke billows from Mount Ontake, with a mountain lodge seen upper right, in this picture taken from a Mainichi aircraft on the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2014.Smoke billows from Mount Ontake, with a mountain lodge seen upper right, in this picture taken from a Mainichi aircraft on the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2014. (Mainichi)

“There was a thunder-like noise and the sky became dark because of the smoke. There are 15 centimeters of ash on the ground,” said Shuichi Mukai, who runs a mountain lodge near the summit.

More than 100 hikers who had fled into mountain lodges made their way down the mountain in the afternoon, lodge workers said.

Smoke billows from Mount Ontake following its eruption in this picture taken in Gero, Gifu Prefecture, from a Mainichi aircraft on the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2014. Mount Fuji is seen in the background.Smoke billows from Mount Ontake following its eruption in this picture taken in Gero, Gifu Prefecture, from a Mainichi aircraft on the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2014. Mount Fuji is seen in the background. (Mainichi)

The weather agency restricted entry to hiking paths and said a team of researchers will be sent to the area to collect data.

While data had shown volcanic earthquakes in the area in mid-September, there were few other telling signs, making it difficult for the agency to predict the eruption, agency official Sadayuki Kitagawa told reporters.

A mountain lodge near the summit of Mount Ontake is covered with ash following the volcano's eruption, in this picture taken from a Mainichi aircraft on the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2014.A mountain lodge near the summit of Mount Ontake is covered with ash following the volcano’s eruption, in this picture taken from a Mainichi aircraft on the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2014. (Mainichi)

Mt. Ontake’s last major eruption was in 1979 when it expelled over 200,000 tons of ash. It also went through a minor eruption in 1991 and caused multiple volcanic earthquakes in 2007.

With a relatively easy climb with lodges along the way and a ropeway running part of the way to the summit, the volcano is popular with nature-lovers for its autumn scenery and draws large crowds in late September and October, according to the local tourism association.

Smoke billows from Mount Ontake, with a mountain lodge seen upper right, in this picture taken from a Mainichi aircraft on the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2014.Smoke billows from Mount Ontake, with a mountain lodge seen upper right, in this picture taken from a Mainichi aircraft on the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2014. (Mainichi)Smoke billows from Mount Ontake following its eruption in this picture taken from a Mainichi aircraft on the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2014.Smoke billows from Mount Ontake following its eruption in this picture taken from a Mainichi aircraft on the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2014. (Mainichi)Smoke billows from Mount Ontake following its eruption in this picture taken from a Mainichi aircraft on the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2014.Smoke billows from Mount Ontake following its eruption in this picture taken from a Mainichi aircraft on the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2014. (Mainichi)Mount Ontake is pictured from a Mainichi aircraft in this December 2002 file photo.Mount Ontake is pictured from a Mainichi aircraft in this December 2002 file photo. (Mainichi)


MAINICHI.

Mount Ontake Volcano erupts in Japan; 7 missing, 40 injured | #Japan #VolcanoErupts


by KEN MORITSUGU.
Buildings of a mountain lodge near the summit crater are totally covered by ash spewed out by Mt. Ontake as the volcano erupts in central Japan Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014.Buildings of a mountain lodge near the summit crater are totally covered by ash spewed out by Mt. Ontake as the volcano erupts in central Japan Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014. Mt. Ontake erupted Saturday, sending a large plume of ash high into the sky and prompting a warning to climbers and others to avoid the area. Japanese broadcaster NHK, citing local authorities, said there were reports of injuries, but no word on their severity. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT

TOKYO (AP) — A volcano in central Japan erupted in spectacular fashion on Saturday, catching mountain climbers by surprise and injuring at least 40 people who were stranded in areas that rescue workers have been unable to reach. Another seven people were missing.

The injured were in mountain lodges, because they were unable to descend 3,067-meter (10,062-foot) Mount Ontake on their own, said Sohei Hanamura, a crisis management official in Nagano prefecture. Thirty-two people had serious injuries, including at least seven who lost consciousness.

Police, fire and military rescue workers were trying to approach the area on foot, after deciding that the ash in the air made it too dangerous to use helicopters. The ash was also hampering their ascent.

Hanamura said seven people were reported missing on the mountain.

Lodge managers were familiar with first aid procedures and were communicating with rescue officials in town, he said.

With a sound likened to thunder, the volcano erupted shortly before noon on a clear autumn day, spewing large white plumes of ash high into the sky and sending people on the mountainside fleeing.

The eruption continued into the night, blanketing the surrounding area in ash. About 250 people were initially trapped on the slopes, but most had made their way down by Saturday night, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported. Some were in shelters set up in four nearby towns.

One witness told NHK that the eruption started with large booms that sounded like thunder.

In a YouTube video, shocked climbers can be seen moving quickly away from the peak as an expanding plume of ash emerges above and then engulfs them.

Many of those who made it down emerged with clothes and backpacks covered in ash. They reported being engulfed in total darkness for several minutes.

Mikio Oguro, an NHK journalist who was on the slope on an unrelated assignment, told the station that he saw massive smoke coming out of the crater, blocking sunlight and reducing visibility to zero.

“Massive ash suddenly fell and the entire area was totally covered with ash,” he said by phone. He and his crew had to use headlamps to find a lodge.

“My colleagues later told me that they thought they might die,” Oguro said.

Two Jetstar flights headed to Tokyo’s Narita International Airport diverted to Kansai International Airport in western Japan as a precaution.

Japan’s meteorological agency raised the alert level for Mount Ontake to 3 on a scale of 1 to 5. It warned people to stay away from the mountain, saying ash and other debris could fall up to 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) away.

Mount Ontake, about 210 kilometers (130 miles) west of Tokyo, sits on the border of Nagano and Gifu prefectures, on the main Japanese island of Honshu. The volcano’s last major eruption was in 1979.


Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report.

via Volcano erupts in Japan; 7 missing, 40 injured.

BBC News Magazine: The ship that totally failed to change the world


By Tammy Thueringer & Justin Parkinson
NS Savannah
Fifty years ago the world’s first nuclear-powered cargo-passenger ship sailed from the US to Europe on a publicity tour to persuade the world to embrace the atomic age. It didn’t quite work out like that.

Sleek in shape, painted red and white, its interior decorated in what was then ultra-modern chrome, the NS Savannah wasn’t quite like any other cargo ship.

It had facilities for passengers. The 600ft, 12,000-ton ship boasted a cinema, veranda bar and swimming pool. The cabins had no curtains. Instead, “polarised” windows, designed to cut glare, lined the sides of staterooms.

The ship was one of the few to spring directly from the imagination of a US president. In 1953, Dwight Eisenhower had made his famous Atoms for Peace speech, attempting to balance the growing fear of nuclear apocalypse with optimism about the possibility of civilian use of atomic energy.

And he wanted an atomic ship. A civilian one.

NS Savannah, 1962“A very attractive ship”: The NS Savannah, pictured in 1962

The NS Savannah, which cost $50m, was launched 55 years ago this week. It was to be an ambassador of sorts – the world’s first nuclear-propelled merchant ship and a symbol of safety and faith in the fuel of the future.

Stan Wheatley was one of those who was excited to be working on the ship. He was in the shipyard while the Savannah was built and served as the chief engineer on its maiden voyage. “The nuclear power system was a prototype, no question, but we were all trained well.”

Everyone was aware the ship was supposed to be a beautiful advertisement for nuclear energy.

“It represented the best-looking ship around and it still is a very attractive ship,” says Wheatley, now a member of the Savannah Association which works to preserve and protect the decommissioned ship that now sits at a port in Baltimore, Maryland.

Inside the NS Savannah's stateroomInside the NS Savannah’s stateroom
The Savannah's control roomThe Savannah’s control room
View from the Savannah's bridgeView from the Savannah’s bridge Continue reading

#Japan: Doubts over ice wall to keep #Fukushima safe from damaged nuclear reactors


Frozen barrier, costing £185m, being built around Fukushima Daiichi’s four damaged reactors to contain irradiated water.

Workers work on the construction of an ice wall at the tsunami-crippled Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.Workers work on the construction of an ice wall at the tsunami-crippled Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Photograph: Kimimasa Mayama/AFP/Getty Images

In fading light and just a stone’s throw from the most terrifying scenes during Japan’s worst nuclear accident, engineers resumed their race against time to defeat the next big threat: thousands of tonnes of irradiated water.

If all goes to plan, by next March Fukushima Daiichi’s four damaged reactors will be surrounded by an underground frozen wall that will be a barrier between highly toxic water used to cool melted fuel inside reactor basements and clean groundwater flowing in from surrounding hills.

Up to 400 tonnes of groundwater that flows into the basements each day must be pumped out, stored and treated – and on-site storage is edging closer to capacity. Decommissioning the plant will be impossible until its operator, Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco] addresses the water crisis.

Last month workers from Tepco and the construction firm Kajima Corp began inserting 1,550 pipes 33 metres vertically into the ground to form a rectangular cordon around the reactors. Coolant set at -30C will be fed into the pipes, eventually freezing the surrounding earth to create an impermeable barrier.

“We started work a month ago and have installed more than 100 pipes, so it is all going according to plan to meet our deadline,” Tadafumi Asamura, a Kajima manager who is supervising the ice wall construction, said as workers braved rain, humidity and radiation to bore holes in the ground outside reactor No 4, scene of one of three hydrogen explosions at the plant in the early days of the crisis.

But sealing off the four reactors – three of which melted down in the March 2011 disaster – is costly and not without risks. The 32bn-yen (£185m) wall will be built with technology that has never been used on such a large scale.  Continue reading