Seven students and one teacher were killed by an avalanche in a Japanese town of Nasu on Monday.
The disaster occurred during a climbing event at Nasuonsen Family Ski Resort in Tochigi prefecture, about 160 kilometers ( 99 miles) north of Tokyo. It was around 8:30 in the morning.
The victims, all from Otawara High School, were part of a larger group composed of 51 students in mountaineering clubs and 11 teachers from seven high schools. The climbing lessons reportedly began on Saturday.
An official from Tochigi Prefectural Police reported that 40 other people were injured, The Japan Times said. During the incident, 40 students and eight teachers were walking in the accumulated snow.
According to the Tochigi education board, the group was originally set to climb the mountain on Monday. However, because of heavy snow, they opted to walk in the accumulated snow.
Nasu, which had been receiving heavy snow, did have avalanche warnings in place. A fire department official commented (via Reuters), “We have avalanche incidents once or twice a year around here, but haven’t had anything this big.”
Tochigi police are looking at the possibility of professional negligence being responsible for the casualties.