550 rescue workers search on Mt. Ontake

NAGANO - The search for the missing since Saturday's eruption of Mt. Ontake in Nagano Prefecture has involved about 550 rescue workers, including Self-Defence Forces personnel.

On Sunday, 23 climbers were airlifted off the mountain by helicopters. The SDF personnel are being assisted in the rescue work by local police and firefighting units and rescue workers from neighbouring prefectures.

Following a request from the Nagano prefectural governor, the SDF mobilized seven helicopters and four Type-89 armored vehicles, which can withstand falling hot ash. The police utilized two helicopters for the rescue work.

As poisonous gases are being emitted from the volcano, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency requested Tokyo and Yamanashi, Shizuoka and Aichi prefectures to dispatch emergency disaster relief teams equipped with gas-detecting equipment to the site. About 210 rescue workers were sent in response.

Thirty-six medical teams from six prefectures, including Niigata and Gunma, provided treatment for injured people who descended the mountain on their own.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry deployed 14 vehicles to illuminate the foot of trails leading up the mountain to help descending climbers and to clean up volcanic ash that has accumulated on the road.

The Japan Meteorological Agency is monitoring the amount of sulfur dioxide emitted by the volcano by having a car equipped with a special device drive around the mountain.