8 climbers die in stormy weather in Japan

May 5, 2012 at 4:38 PM

NAGANO, Japan, May 5 (UPI) -- Eight people died in stormy weather while climbing Japan's Northern Alps, police said Saturday.

Nagano prefectural police said a climber found six men collapsed near Mount Korenge early Saturday and they were taken by helicopter to a village and confirmed dead, Kyodo reported.

The men, believed to be in their 60s and 70s and from Kitakyushu, Fukuoka prefecture, had been missing since Friday. The men, police said, were wearing only light clothing and weren't dressed for the rain. They are believed to have died of hypothermia.

Police said a 62-year-old woman found lying in a path near the estimated 8,760-foot Jiigatake Peak was confirmed dead. The woman, identified as Sumako Sowa of Osaka, had called a lodge Friday evening saying she could not move in a snowstorm. She had attempted to climb the peak alone.

Kyodo said police had been searching for the seven climbers in areas near the estimated 9,619-foot Shiroumadake Peak. Stormy weather had been reported in the area since Friday afternoon.

Gifu prefectural police said Kazuki Yoshino, 71, of Fukuoka prefecture, among six climbers transported to a mountain lodge by police, died of hypothermia. The other five climbers, also of Fukuoka prefecture, also suffered hypothermia but it was not life-threatening, police said.

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