Japan Volcano Victims Leave Haunting Photos of Last Moments

Image: Photo taken by a hiker, moments before his death, of the eruption of Mount Ontake in Japan.
A photo taken by 59-year-old hiker Izumi Noguchi, who fell victim to the eruption of Mount Ontake.Izumi Noguchi / Kyodo News via AP

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

Photographs taken by hikers in the moments before Mount Ontake volcano erupted in Japan last month have been made public by the victims’ families. More than 50 people died in the unexpected eruption on Sept. 27 in the country's deadliest volcanic eruption since World War II.

The victims included construction company employee Izumi Noguchi, 59, who was climbing alone, as his usual hiking companion, his wife Hiromi, had to work, she told Japanese broadcaster NHK and other TV stations. His compact camera was banged up, but the memory chip inside was undamaged. She printed all 100 shots. The last one is of an enormous plume billowing from the crater behind a mountaintop lodge.

"This is an amazing photo. But I wish he had fled instead of taking pictures. I'd rather have him back," Hiromi said. "I hope to hike up there someday, perhaps 10 years later. I want to see what my husband saw."

Izumi Noguchi poses on the summit of Mount Ontake shortly before the eruption of the volcanic mountain in central Japan.Izumi Noguchi / Kyodo News via AP


- The Associated Press