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Death Toll From Japanese Volcano Rises

Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) soldiers and firefighters conduct rescue operations near the peak of Mount Ontake on Wednesday.
Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) soldiers and firefighters conduct rescue operations near the peak of Mount Ontake on Wednesday.

Updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

The number of dead from a volcanic eruption in Japan has climbed to nearly 50 after more victims were recovered from Mt. Ontake, which unexpectedly spewed toxic gas last week as people hiked near the 10,000-foot summit.

The Japan Times says:

"Precarious conditions at the summit have made the search an on-off effort, and other bodies may still be undiscovered.

"Japanese media reports have said up to 20 people remain unaccounted for, although local emergency services say a greater number have been reported missing."

As we reported previously, more than 200 people made it to safety from Ontake after Saturday's eruption that sent rocks and plumes of ash billowing down the mountainside.

Authorities say the death toll from Mt. Ontake, located 125 miles west of Tokyo, is the largest for a Japanese volcano since 1926, when an eruption on the northern island of Hokkaido killed 144 people. Ontake, a popular tourist spot, last erupted in 1979.

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