ABC News partner NHK reports that seven high school students, along with an instructor, were killed as the result of an avalanche on Monday at a ski resort in Japan. The group was mountain climbing at the time of the accident.
Over 62 teachers and students, representing seven (7) high schools, were visiting Tochigi Prefecture, which is 100 miles north of Tokyo, Japan. The eight victims were found unconscious after a being caught in the snow at around 8:30 a.m. local time.
The NHK report said that the dead students and an instructor were all participating in a climbing safety training program taking place over 3 days on the mountain. Authorities in Tochigi had originally believed that all of the victims were students.
The identities of those killed were released to the media On Tuesday after being positively identifying by authorities in Tochigi. One victim was identified as a 29-year-old instructor. The remaining seven victims were students between the ages of 16 and 17. A total of 40 other climbers were believed to be injured in the accident. Two of these were students suffered serious injuries, according to the reports.
The students attended Otawara High School, which has one of the finest mountaineering clubs in Japan. The school has won a competitive climbing title, the Tochigi Prefectural, for eight years straight. Avalanche survivors reported that club members were leading groups of students in a trekking drill on the slope when the avalanche struck.
Avalanche warnings had been issued for the area previously by the weather bureau in Japan.