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Volcano Rescue on Japan’s Mt. Ontake Halted Due to Toxic Gases

Rescuers Continue Search for Volcano Victims 0:43

TOKYO — The death toll after volcano erupted in Japan rose to at least 36 on Monday after rescuers found five more bodies on the ash-covered mountain, police said. The discovery came just before the 540 emergency service personnel were forced to abandon 10,062-foot Mt. Ontake because of the high level of toxic gases, Nagano Prefectural Police said. It was the first fatal eruption in modern times on Mt. Ontake, which is located 125 miles west of Tokyo. The volcano rained down rocks and hot ash without warning onto hikers.

"I felt a hot wind blast against my back and crouched down to the ground," one man told NTV. "I was sure I was going to die." Scenes broadcast live on Japanese TV station TBS showed soldiers carrying yellow body bags to a military helicopter. Four bodies were brought down Sunday and eight more Monday. Ten of these were the only bodies confirmed dead by authorities. The other 26 are classified as "pulseless," the custom in Japan until police doctors conduct an examination.

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- Arata Yamamoto

Reuters contributed to this report.