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TOKYO — The death toll from Japan's recent volcano eruption looked set to hit 47 after 12 more bodies were discovered on the ash-covered slopes of Mt. Ontake on Wednesday. Seismic activity and toxic gases have been hampering search crews' efforts. But with forecasts predicting that Typhoon Phanfone could hit Japan this weekend, the operation has become a race against time despite the safety concerns. One family member of a missing hiker told reporters: "We ask that the military do their best. I know it’s a challenging task but all of us family members are waiting."

At least 30 bodies have been airlifted from the 10,000-foot peak. The 1,000-strong army of firefighters, police and military personnel are expected to bring down the remaining victims by the end of Wednesday, Nagano police said. All the bodies airlifted off the mountain have been confirmed as having died from trauma injuries caused by volcanic rocks and boulders ejected in the eruption. Mt. Ontake is located about 120 miles west of Tokyo. Police had initially said 48 bodies were recovered, before issuing an apology stating that a stretcher carrying possessions had accidentally been included in the total.


- Arata Yamamoto and Alexander Smith