An avalanche at Tochigi ski resort of northeastern Japan has killed eight people.
According to Japan Times, the seven students and one teacher from Otawara High School in Tochigi Prefecture were attending a climbing event in the town of Nasu when the incident happened on Monday at around 8:30 a.m.
A total of 52 students and 11 teachers from seven high schools were attending the three-day spring time climbing lesson that started on Saturday.
Come Monday, they were supposed to ascend Mount Chausu, a 6,300-foot peak mountain, but due to the severe weather, they opted to cancel it. Instead, they went for the lower area of the mountain, where they practiced to climb in an accumulated snow. Despite their effort to be safe, disaster reached them and lives have perished.
Before the accident occurred, conditions worsened on Sunday night, and an avalanche alert was declared, according to the Tochigi branch of the Japanese national weather service.
Aside from those who died, Japan Today said at least 40 other students and teachers were injured in the avalanche.
Japan Meteorological Agency reported that the avalanche was followed by a heavy snowfall overnight, citing that more than 1ft snow accumulated in the Nasu highlands between midnight and 9 in the morning.
Robert Speta, a meteorologist for NHK World told The Guardian that the avalanche was triggered by strong snowfall on the past few days followed by high temperatures.
“Typically it tapers off in late March, the snowpack settles and it’s OK for climbing and off-piste skiing, but just recently we had this big spike in the snow depth,” Speta said.
“We had heavy snow that condensed [with the warmer weather] and then once you have somebody on top of that, that creates a trigger. These are all a recipe for avalanche creation.”
Meanwhile, a separate local government official said investigation would ensue and find out why the group was climbing during an avalanche alert.