National

Three climbers found safe after pal dies

Kyodo

Three of four climbers who disappeared after setting off to scale Mount Aizuasahi in Fukushima Prefecture on July 16 were found alive Friday, local authorities said.

The fourth climber had been found dead Thursday.

Nobuhiko Fujimori, 39, a truck driver from Musashimurayama, Tokyo, and Hisashi Ikeda, 29, a trucker from Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, climbed down the mountain on their own Friday morning.

They had started their climb of the 1,624-meter mountain on July 16.

Around 4:20 p.m., a rescue team found Junichi Shiraiwa, a 28-year-old company employee from Kodaira, Tokyo. He was unable to walk due to a sprained ankle and had awaited rescue.

He was airlifted to the foot of the mountain by a police helicopter.

Another climber, Yuichi Matsui, a 33-year-old company employee from Hachioji, Tokyo, was found dead Thursday in the Shirato River.

According to police, Fujimori and Ikeda said the four climbers were hit by a mudslide at midnight July 17 and Matsui was unable to get free.

The three tried to pull him from the mud but he told them to flee to safety, the two climbers reportedly claimed.

The three tried to descend the mountain but Shiraiwa began suffering from exhaustion, police quoted Fujimori and Ikeda as saying.

The two told police they survived by eating rice cakes and dried noodles, and slept in the bushes at night.

The four left an inn in the town of Tadami for the mountain on July 16. Employees at the inn contacted police after the four failed to return as planned on July 19.

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