updated 7/24/2009 6:45:50 AM ET 2009-07-24T10:45:50

An American and his Japanese colleague were found dead on Japan's Mt. Fuji after freezing to death in cold and wet weather on their way down from the peak, police said Friday.

The deaths on Japan's most famous and scenic mountain came a week after 10 senior citizen climbers also died of exposure in northern mountains.

Police and rescuers found the body of Jerry Yu, a 30-year-old U.S. citizen who worked for a Japanese communications company in Tokyo, off the trail just below the mountain's peak Thursday, said Yamanashi prefectural (state) police official Takahiro Omata.

His colleague, Tsuyoshi Nakamura, 27, was found dead Friday lower down the 12,388-foot (3,776-meter) mountain.

The two were last seen by other climbers as they headed down after reaching Mt. Fuji's peak last Saturday.

"Don't underestimate Mt. Fuji," Omata said. "It's quite steep and much tougher than you might think, especially in bad weather."

Investigators believe the two men succumbed to hypothermia near the peak as temperatures dipped to as low as 34 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius).

Last year, four people died and 17 were injured on Mt. Fuji because of insufficient gear and a lack of experience, police said.

On July 17, 10 senior citizen hikers were found dead while climbing Mount Tomuraushi on Hokkaido, Japan's main northern island. All but one was part of an 18-member tour organized by a Tokyo-based travel agency.

Police were investigating the company on suspicion of negligence.

More on: Japan

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