Eight high school students are feared dead after being caught in an avalanche at a Japanese ski resort Monday, according to a spokesman from the local fire department.
Poor weather conditions initially hampered efforts by rescue crews to reach the Nasu Onsen Family Ski Area, a small ski slope on the side of Mount Nasu in Tochigi Prefecture, about 200 kilometers north of Tokyo.
Over 30 people are believed to be injured, according to Kyodo News. Thirty-two students and teachers were able to safely get down from the slope, the fire department spokesman said.
The students were part of a mountaineering club and had reportedly been taking part in a climbing event when local police received a call about the avalanche at 9:20 a.m. local time, according to local officials.
Over a foot of snow fell in the Nasu highlands region between Sunday night and Monday morning, according to data supplied by the Japan Meteorological Agency.
The agency had issued an avalanche advisory warning for the region, after recent warm weather raised the risk. Snow showers are predicted to continue through Monday and into Tuesday.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe commented on the disaster at a parliamentary session Monday, according to local media. He said that the government would “make every effort to respond to the disaster, while making it a top priority to rescue victims.”