• Kyodo


Two men were rescued by helicopter Monday after going missing while backcountry skiing over the weekend in a popular ski resort town in Niigata Prefecture.

Takao Okawa, 59, of Kanagawa Prefecture, and Yasuhiro Kato, 38, of Tokyo, were found uninjured. They had been unaccounted for since skiing in unmarked areas in the town of Yuzawa on Saturday, according to the police.

A friend notified police that the two were missing at around 5 p.m. Saturday after they failed to show up at a mountain hut where they were supposed to stay the night and could not be reached by mobile phone.

There was a blizzard in the area at the time and more snow fell Sunday, according to the police.

A search and rescue mission began Sunday morning. At around 8:55 a.m. Monday, a police helicopter found the skiers around 1.4 kilometers southwest of the summit of Mount Kaguragamine.

The two were taken to a hospital, the police said.

The National Police Agency has been warning of the risks of backcountry skiing, saying it requires knowledge and outdoor gear similar to that for mountain climbing.

During the New Year’s holidays, 40 people got lost in mountainous areas across Japan, including one person who died. Thirteen of the 40 people were skiing in unmarked areas, most of them foreigners.

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