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Magnitude 6.8 earthquake hits central Japan

Rescue workers are seen between collapsed houses after an earthquake in Hakuba town, Nagano prefecture. Credit: Reuters

A strong earthquake has struck a mountainous area of central Japan that hosted the 1998 winter Olympics, knocking down at least 10 homes in a ski resort town and injuring several people.

Authorities say at least 39 people were injured in the initial tremor

The magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck near Nagano city at a depth of six miles, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. The US Geological Survey measured the quake's magnitude at 6.2. Since the quake occurred inland, there was no possibility of a tsunami.

One of the hardest-hit areas appeared to be Hakuba, a ski town west of Nagano that hosted events in the 1998 games. Ten homes collapsed there, said Shigeharu Fujimura, a Nagano prefecture disaster management official.

Nine people were trapped underneath the collapsed houses, but they all were rescued, and none had life-threatening injuries, said Hakuba official Tomoyuki Shimokawa.

Officials at Japan`s Meteorological Agency are warning people to be on the alert for aftershocks in the days ahead

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A 'dozen more bodies found' after Japanese volcano eruption

Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) soldiers and firefighters conduct rescue operations near the peak of Mt. Ontake. Credit: Reuters

A dozen more bodies have been found at summit of a volcano Japan after it erupted at the weekend, raising the death toll to 48, police have told the Associated Press.

Earlier today, rescuers at the summit of Mount Ontake resumed the search, they had previously had to abandon efforts due to a rise in toxic gas levels.

Volcanic smoke rises from Mount Ontake. Credit: Reuters

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Toxic gas halts Japan volcano search efforts

Search teams have been forced to abandon efforts to find more victims of the Japan volcano eruption due to a rise in toxic gas levels.

Volcanic smoke rises from Mount Ontake in central Japan, two days after a volcanic eruption. Credit: REUTERS/Kyodo

Earlier today, rescuers at the summit of Mount Ontake found what could be five more victims of Saturday's eruption.

At least 36 people are feared to have died.

More than 30 believed dead in Japan eruption

Thirty-one people were presumed dead near the peak of a Japanese volcano that erupted unexpectedly a day earlier while it was packed with hikers.

A hiker is lifted by a rescue helicopter of Japan Self-Defense Force. Credit: Reuters
Soldiers and firefighters conduct rescue operations at mountain lodges. Credit: Reuters

Police said the 31 people were found in "cardiopulmonary" arrest but declined to confirm their deaths pending a formal examination, as per Japanese custom.

Soldiers and firefighters carry an injured person near a crater of Mt. Ontake. Credit: Reuters

Japanese volcano erupts without any warning

Hundreds of people, including children, were stranded on Japanese volcano after it erupted without warning.

More than 30 hikers are feared deadand 40 people were injured in the eruption. Authorities were trying to confirm the whereabouts of 45 people, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said earlier.

Mount Ontake in Nagano prefecture Credit: Google Maps

An official at the volcano division of the Japan Meteorological Agency said that, while there had been a rising number of small earthquakes detected at Ontake, the eruption could not have been predicted easily.

"There were no other signs of an imminent eruption, such as earth movements or changes on the mountain's surface," the official told Reuters.

Mount Ontake was still erupting on Sunday, pouring smoke and ash hundreds of metres into the sky.

Ash was found on cars as far as 50 miles (80 km) away.

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