Haunting photos have been pulled from phones of hikers that perished in Japan’s Mount Ontake volcanic eruption. The photos, taken shortly before the eruption show smiling faces and excitement as each hiker reaches the peak of the mountain. However, the final photo of one of the hikers captures the sheer magnitude of the disaster.
More than 50 people died when Mount Ontake, a popular hiking destination in central Japan, erupted without warning on September 27 in the country’s deadliest volcanic eruption since World War II.
According to US News, Hideomi Takahashi, 41, was among nine climbers from a major Japanese insurance company, Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Holdings, Inc. They worked at two branches near Tokyo. Only three survived. At Takahashi’s funeral on Thursday, his family showed a close friend an iPhone with at least six photos from what would be the last few minutes of his life. The last photo, apparently shot by a colleague, shows Takahashi standing next to the “Mount Ontake summit” sign, giving a thumbs-up.
One of Hideomi’s friends saw the iPhone was still working and decided to share some of the photos.
“When I saw the iPhone still worked, I thought it’s like a miracle.”
The friend asked that only his first name, Hiroyuki, be used after he was criticized online for posting some of the photos on Twitter. He has since taken the tweets down.
The Daily Mail reports that a second Mount Ontake victim, 59-year-old Izumi Noguchi, was climbing alone as his usual hiking companion, his wife Hiromi, had to work. The hiker’s compact camera was found banged up with Noguchi’s body, but the sim card remained intact. Hiromi viewed and printed all 100 photos taken during Noguchi’s final hike. The last few photos on the card showing the magnitude of exactly what happened that day on the peak.
Another hiker who was climbing the summit and survived uploaded a startling Youtube video taken just seconds after the eruption. In the video you can see the plumes of ash and smoke pouring down the mountain towards the hiker. The final seconds of the video show the hiker being consumed by the ash.