Japan volcano in pictures: Ash engulfs Mount Ontake as rescue teams search for survivors

At least 31 people are believed to have been killed by the fallout of the eruption

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The sudden eruption of Mount Ontake was described by people at the foot of the volcano as sounding like “thunder”, with those caught in the descent of ash recounting how volcanic rocks fell on them “life hailstones”.

The volcano spewed large plumes of gas and ash into the sky as it erupted unexpectedly around noon on Saturday, completely covering the surrounding area in a thick layer of the powdery grey and white ash.

At least 31 people are believed to have been killed by the eruption, with their bodies found by rescue teams on Sunday. Japanese custom dictates that a death cannot be confirmed until a formal examination has been made.

Mount Ontake continued to pour out smoke and ash on Sunday, with remains being found on cars as far as 50 miles away from the mountain.

The top of the mountain is now completely blanketed, while climbers and rescue teams wear bright colours as they search the area.

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