Rescuers seek to bring down bodies found on Japan's Mount Fuji

The shadow of Mount Fuji is cast on clouds hanging below the summit Aug. 27, 2019, in Japan. Three bodies were found inside a crater at the summit of Mount Fuji, Japan’s most famous mountain, with one of them already brought down from the slopes, police said Thursday, June 27, 2024.
The shadow of Mount Fuji is cast on clouds hanging below the summit Aug. 27, 2019, in Japan. Three bodies were found inside a crater at the summit of Mount Fuji, Japan’s most famous mountain, with one of them already brought down from the slopes, police said Thursday, June 27, 2024. AP Photo

TOKYO — Three bodies were found inside a crater at the summit of Mount Fuji, Japan’s most famous mountain, with one of them already brought down from the slopes, police said Thursday.

The identities of the people, including gender or age, were not confirmed. An effort to bring back the two other bodies will continue Friday or later, depending on weather conditions, they said. A search was called off for Thursday because of forecasts for heavy rainfall.

It’s unclear whether the three people were climbing the 3,776-meter (12,388-foot) mountain together, as the bodies were found several meters apart.

The official climbing season had not yet started when the climbers entered the mountain from the Shizuoka Prefecture side.

Japanese media reports showed a vehicle with one of the bodies driving into a police station in Shizuoka Prefecture. The rescue team had been searching for a 53-year-old man for whom a missing person report was filed.

Separately, Kyodo News service said professional climber Keita Kurakami, 38, died in a hospital after being found by police while climbing Fuji from the Yamanashi Prefecture side of the mountain.

Fuji can be climbed from both Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures. The climbing season kicks in for Yamanashi starting July 1.

Mount Fuji, made famous in ukiyoe, or woodblock prints, of 18th and 19th Century Edo Era masters Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige, is a popular tourist destination.

Experts warn it can get extremely cold, even in the summer, and proper gear, climbing boots and clothing are crucial. Trekkers are also at risk of altitude sickness if they ascend too quickly.

The picturesque Fuji has long been an iconic symbol of Japan, with its gracefully sweeping slopes and white icy cap that stand out amid tranquil lakes and rice fields.

As many as 300,000 people climb Fuji every year, and watching the sunrise from the mountaintop is coveted as a spiritual experience. But worries have been growing lately about overcrowding from the influx of tourists.

The town of Fujikawaguchiko in Yamanashi erected a large black screen along a sidewalk to block the view of Mount Fuji to discourage photo-snapping crowds. (AP)

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