Mount Ontake's unexpected volcanic eruption over the weekend killed at least 36 people in Japan, local news network NHK has confirmed.
Situated in the Japanese island of Honshu, the volcano had last erupted in 1979, when it was declared active. But on Sept. 27 it blew up after 35 years, sending out plumes of gas, spraying large rocks and filling the surrounding area with toxic fumes.
Due to the volcano's apparent dormancy, it had become a tourist spot and attracted hikers from all over the world. Its eruption without any prior signs caught people off guard on Saturday as they rushed to take cover in one of the few nearby cabins. Some found places to avoid the volcanic outburst but not everyone was fortunate enough to survive the mountain's angry outburst.
The timing was horrible, as Saturday is a day many Japanese typically enjoy outdoor activities, and the weather was particularly nice. That likely drew more people to the mountain.
Volcanic smoke rises from Mount Ontake.
Climbers and a car, covered with volcanic ash, are seen at a parking near Mount Ontake.
Mountain lodges, covered with volcanic ash are seen near a crater of Mt. Ontake.
Rescue work has been slow due to volcanic activity.
A firefighter conducts rescue operations at mountain lodges, covered with volcanic ash near the peak of Mount Ontake.
Rescue work resumed on Tuesday after several days of inactivity.
The death toll is expected to rise in days to come.