The recent eruption of Mount Ontake, at the border of Nagano and Gifu prefectures, was indeed unfortunate, having left 56 people dead and many others injured. It’s quite interesting to note, though, that a few of those casualties included people taking pictures and videos of the eruption.
There were also other hikers who died there, but not after having taken some amazing pictures of the eruption before succumbing to the force of nature.
Volcanic ash is deadly stuff in a lot of ways. Its particles are relatively dense, so it can accumulate and collapse roofs of houses, and even concrete buildings. When inhaled, it can turn into plaster when it comes in contact with water inside the airways and lungs, which then sets and can suffocate the subject when in large quantities.
Survivors who have inhaled significant quantities can suffer from the chronic condition of silicosis, also known by its more interesting scientific name of pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, which is also one of the longest words in English. Ash can also get into the eyes and be quite an irritant, which must have been an issue for these people who recorded videos of the eruption.
According to reports, this abrupt first eruption left at least 16 people unconscious and 30 seriously injured, as well as more than 40 stranded on the mountain. It would be easy to say that they shouldn’t have been there, but they were mostly hikers who never expected an eruption and were caught by surprise.
This is one of the videos recorded of this ruthless display of power by Mother Nature, and you can see that it appears to be shot perilously close to the pillar of smoke and ash spewing from the volcano. You can imagine the citizens of Pompeii in ancient Rome seeing the same thing when Vesuvius erupted in AD 79.
Later on in the video, they’re ran away once the smoke started to close in. The volcanic ash then hit them and the screen darkened. Seeing as how this video was later uploaded to YouTube, the man who recorded this video survived. He was a hiker there with a hiking group when the volcano came to life, the first of what would become three eruptions.