This Is What It Looks Like Near an Erupting Volcano

Rescuers called off search efforts because of toxic gas.

Mount Ontake, a popular hiking destination, is about 130 miles west of Tokyo on the main Japanese island of Honshu. The volcano erupted just before noon on what was a clear autumn day, leaving hundreds of hikers trapped for several hours.

About 40 people who had been stranded on the mountain came down on Sunday, the Associated Press reported. Many were injured, some with broken bones, by falling ash and stone, and they were rescued with the aid of stretchers and helicopters.

Five more victims were recovered on Monday, Reuters reported, bringing the death toll to at least 36 victims before rescuers stopped searching because of toxic gas. It was not clear how the victims died.

A total of 12 bodies had been recovered as of Monday morning ET, with another 24 apparent dead still on the mountain, The Associated Press reported.

Recovery of Bodies Underway at Japanese Volcano

Mountain lodges and trails were covered in a thick layer of ash, forcing hundreds of rescuers to trek knee-deep.

Mount Ontake had a minor eruption seven years ago. Its last major eruption, the first on record, was in 1979, according to Reuters. It is Japan's second-highest active volcano, with a peak that is 10,062-feet tall. Some families waited for news about their missing loved ones.