October 1, 10:40 a.m. Pacific: Latest death toll figure is 47, but it is believed there are more bodies up there. Autopsies on the first victims retrieved reportedly show, not surprisingly, that they died of blunt trauma. That and ash/heat inhalation are the two top killers during an eruption, I have read.
Update, September 28, 1:55 p.m.: A news report posted two hours ago now says more than 30 are feared dead. Other bodies may be still on the mountain. There are thirty injured, one seriously, per the report.
Also, Dr. Erik Klemetti has a good post on his “Eruptions” blog about this. The eruption, he notes, was probably phreatic, i.e., steam driven rather than a gas-driven true eruption. He makes a number of good recommendations on what to take when you next visit a volcano, and I would (and did, in the comments) also suggest flame-retardant clothing, just in case. One thing not to bring: fear. This was a terrible tragedy, but such things can happen anywhere.
I hadn’t heard of Japan’s Mt. Ontake until today. Apparently it is a popular site for leaf peaking. Some 250 people were caught there by surprise when it erupted today. Initial reports said one person died, but apparently that’s not the case, per the most recent English news report I could find online just now. At least 30 have been seriously injured and others are still trapped.
And there is this video…absolutely terrifying. I hope none of them were injured.
h/t to John VanHoesen.
Update: Webcam (Japanese, if real time, eruption is still continuing but not really strong at the moment)