Schoolchildren killed in Japan Avalanche Avalanche | Asia | A detailed look at news from all parts of the continent DW

At least eight Japanese students were killed in an avalanche on Monday, 160 kilometers north of Tokyo.

The students were part of a group of 52 students and 11 teachers from seven high schools found on the slopes of the Nasu Hot Spring Family family ski resort in Tochigi Prefecture during a disaster.

The students, mostly from Otawara High School in Tochigi, were found without vital signs, an official on a disaster task force in the prefecture told AFP.

In Japan, deaths in such circumstances are not officially announced until doctors can confirm them.

More than 30 people in the group were injured during a mountaineering excursion by the avalanche at 9:20 a.m., authorities and local media said.

Weather conditions hampered rescue efforts as a helicopter could not fly

“This is an annual event and we have never had a serious accident,” one of the teachers told Jiji Press. “I’m really shocked.”

In the area north of Tokyo there was a warning of heavy snowfall and possible avalanches from Sunday to Monday. The local weather authority forecast a snowfall of 30 centimeters. The ski season had ended at the resort, but some of its facilities were being made available for the mountaineering trip organized by the local sports authorities.

Rescuers make victims in an avalanche at a ski resort in Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture

According to authorities, six students were found without vital signs

An official told Agence France-Presse that they still do not know how many teachers are among the victims. The Asahi Shimbun reported that a student was still missing.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in parliament that the government will “make every effort to respond to the disaster and make it a top priority to save the avalanche victims”.

At the request of the governor of the prefecture, more than 100 soldiers were dispatched to the runway to help with the rescue effort. The Asahi Shimbun reported that bad weather prevented a helicopter from reaching the scene of the accident.

aw / rc (dpa, AFP, AP)

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