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Calendar reporter and three others from North Yorks caught up in fatal Japanese volcanic eruption

Calendar correspondent Jon Hill and three others from Whitby in North Yorkshire, have been describing the terrifying scenes witnessed from their gondola as a volcano erupted while on a snowboarding trip in Japan.

Snowboarder witnesses the volcano erupt Credit: Ian Clacherty

People had to flee for their lives as as the eruption triggered an avalanche at Mount Kusatsu-Shirane, a 7,090ft volcano, in Gunma prefecture, north of Tokyo which has left one man dead and several others injured.

We are in an earthquake shelter at the top of a ski station in central Japan. There was a volcanic eruption as we were on the gondola that threw rocks onto the gondola and has destroyed the whole of the ski field. I am afraid we are looking at a grave tragedy.'

– Jon Hill, Calendar Correspondent
The eruption triggered an avalanche at Mount Kusatsu-Shirane,

Stones and rocks rained down on the ski slope and gondola lift, crashing through cabins, including the one Jon Hill and Paul Green were in.

Ian Clacherty and Alastair Jackson had just emerged from the top of the lift station on the slope itself when the volcano erupted.

Damage to the gondola cabin Jon and fellow snowboarders were in Credit: ITV Yorkshire

'I can't believe I am alive. I expected to be dead. That is the most radical thing that's ever happened to me in my life by a factor of ten,' said Paul Green.

The 9:59 a.m. eruption is the first since 1983, according to the Meteorological Agency. Credit: ITV Yorkshire

"The mountain just started smoking and then it started exploding. Rocks were raining down from the sky it was terrifying", said Ian Clacherty

Alastair Jackson, Paul Green and Ian Clacherty from Whitby were skiing when the eruption happened

Alastair Jackson added: "There were rocks whistling into the snow, flooding into the snow all around us."

The Ground Self-Defense Force confirmed one of its members has died and five others sustained injuries after being hit by the avalanche.

Japan is one of the world’s most seismically lively nations, with 110 active volcanoes spanning its mountainous archipelago, of which 47 are monitored around the clock. This is the first eruption of the 2,171-meter mountain is the first since 1983, according to the Meteorological Agency.