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Recovery of Bodies Underway at Japanese Volcano Mt. Ontake

At least 31 people are believed to have died in the aftermath of the sudden eruption of Mt. Ontake on Saturday.

Military and other rescue workers began airlifting more than two dozen bodies from the ash-blanketed peak of a Japanese volcano on Monday morning, as family members of the missing waited at a nearby elementary school.

At least 31 people are believed to have died. Four victims were flown down Sunday, and rescuers returned to 10,062-foot Mt. Ontake on Monday morning to recover the remaining 27. Scenes broadcast live on Japanese TV station TBS showed soldiers carrying yellow body bags one-by-one to a camouflage military helicopter that had landed in a relatively wide-open area of the now bleak landscape, its rotors still spinning.

The four brought down Sunday have been confirmed dead, said Takehiko Furukoshi, a Nagano prefecture crisis-management official. The 27 others are listed as having heart and lung failure, the customary way for Japanese authorities to describe a body until police doctors can examine it.

Saturday's eruption was the first fatal one in modern times at Mount Ontake, a popular climbing destination 130 miles west of Tokyo on the main Japanese island of Honshu. A similar eruption occurred in 1979, but no one died.

IN-DEPTH

— The Associated Press