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Japan: Deaths on Mount Fuji ahead of climbing season

June 27, 2024

The bodies of three people were discovered near the summit of Mount Fuji with recovery efforts taking place. The mountain is a popular but challenging climbing destination due to extreme cold and altitude sickness risks.

Mount Fuji
The bodies on Mount Fuji were found several meters apart, making it unclear if they were climbing togetherImage: Philip Fong/AFP/Getty Images

Three bodies were discovered inside a crater at the summit of Japan's Mount Fuji, police said on Thursday.

One of the bodies was already brought down the iconic mountain, according to police officials.

Authorities said efforts to retrieve the other two bodies will continue depending on weather conditions. On Thursday, the search was halted due to heavy rain forecasts.

The bodies were found several meters apart, making it unclear if they were climbing together. Authorities did not reveal the identities, including gender and age.

Rescue teams were searching for a 53-year-old man who was reported missing when they found the bodies.

Professional climber dies

Meanwhile, national broadcaster NHK reported the death of a climber who had become ill and lost consciousness near the summit on Wednesday.

The person was taken to a hospital in the area after the climber's condition was reported to the police by their companion.

At the same time, Kyodo News service reported that professional climber Keita Kurakami, 38, passed away in a hospital after being found by police while climbing the mountain.

Mount Fuji
Worries have been growing lately about overcrowding of Mount Fuji from the influx of touristsImage: Shuntaro Murase/Yomiuri Shimbun/AP/picture alliance

Overcrowding on Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is a popular but challenging destination due to extreme cold and altitude sickness risks.

Around 300,000 people climb the 3,776-meter (12,388-foot) mountain annually, with many aiming to see the sunrise,  considered to be a spiritual experience.

To make it in time for sunrise, many attempt to complete the climb through the night without breaks, risking sickness and injury.

Of late, there have been growing concerns over tourist overcrowding. Authorities have tried to address this by charging hikers using the Yoshida trail, the most popular route to climb Mount Fuji.

They will be charged 2,000 yen ($13, €12) each this summer.

Also, for the first time, entries will be capped at 4,000 to ease congestion on the mountain.

In May, the town of Fujikawaguchiko in Yamanashi prefecture erected a large black screen to block the view of Mount Fuji to dissuade tourists who litter the roads and break traffic rules to get the best photo for social media.

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ss/kb (AP, AFP)