Officials in Nagano Prefecture say 16 hikers may still be stranded on Mount Ontake.
The volcano straddling Nagano and Gifu prefectures erupted on Saturday. 47 people have died in the worst volcanic disaster in postwar Japan.The officials gave their estimate of the number of missing on Friday.They say they have received at least 500 inquiries about people whose fates remain unknown. They say their estimate is based on the number of hikers who had registered with the authorities and checks of vehicles that are still parked at the foot of the mountain. The officials have interviewed other climbers and relatives of the missing.

Police officers, Japanese Self-Defense Forces personnel and firefighters plan to resume their search when the weather improves.

Mount Ontake started erupting shortly before noon on September 27th. The Meteorological Agency says it currently cannot confirm smoke from craters due to clouds near the summit. But it adds volcanic activity is continuing as minor tremors are being detected.The agency warns that the activity could intensify. It is calling on people within 4 kilometers of the craters to be on the alert for falling rocks and a flow of hot gas and ash.

The agency observed volumes of volcanic gas at the foot of the mountain. It recorded emissions of 500 to 1,500 tons of sulfur dioxide a day until Wednesday.

Volcanic activity is believed to be continuing, but smoke is not visible because of the bad weather.

The Meteorological Agency warns that the activity could intensify. It is urging people within 4 kilometers of the craters to be on the alert for flying rocks and flows of hot gas and ash. The agency has observed volcanic gas at the foot of the mountain. It recorded emissions of 500 to 1,500 tons of sulfur dioxide a day until Wednesday. Media agencies

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