Victims Of Mt. Ontake Eruption Remembered

Victims of Mt. Ontake eruption remembered

Bereaved families and others gathered on Sunday to mourn those who perished in an eruption of Mount Ontake in central Japan six years ago.

The eruption left 58 people dead and five missing at the popular climbing destination. It was Japan's deadliest volcanic disaster since World War Two.

A memorial service was organized by the village of Otaki in Nagano Prefecture at the foot of the mountain. Mourners faced the mountain and observed a moment of silence at 11:52 AM, the exact moment of the eruption.

Participants were limited this year to bereaved families and village officials because of the coronavirus. There was no speech by a family member, as there has been in past years.

The village lifted its entry restrictions this year on the one peak in Nagano Prefecture that had still been closed to climbers. They now have access to both of Mount Ontake's peaks on the Nagano side, including the one that reopened two years ago.

Shelters have been set up near both summits. But local authorities still face the challenge of raising awareness among climbers, and how to evacuate them quickly in the case of another eruption.