Stormy weather claims eight in Northern Alps

Kyodo

At least eight mountaineers died Saturday in the Northern Alps after getting caught in bad weather, police said.

Nagano Prefectural Police said a party of six men in their 60s and 70s was found near Mount Korenge near the Hakuba ski resort by a climber early Saturday and confirmed dead after being airlifted to a nearby village. The group, believed to be from Kitakyushu, disappeared Friday.

Rescuers said the men were probably caught off-guard by a sudden shift from rain to snow in northern Nagano on Friday.

“After expending so much energy in the rain, when it turned into snow they might have experienced a sudden loss of body temperature,” a rescuer said.

The police said the six were found in the same area near the Toyama Prefecture border but were lightly dressed and probably died of hypothermia.

Another climber died the same morning after being caught in a snowstorm near 2,670-meter Jiigatake Peak, farther south, police said. The woman was identified as Sumako Sowa, 62, from Osaka. She was attempting to climb the peak alone.

Farther south, Gifu Prefectural Police said a man died of hypothermia after a party of six climbers also from Fukuoka was located after losing contact. The man, who was identified as Kazuki Yoshino, 71, died while the group was being transported to a lodge.