Eight Japanese high school students are feared dead, after they were caught in an avalanche at a ski resort.

The avalanche occurred early on Monday near Nasu in Tochigi prefecture, 120km (75 miles) north of Tokyo.

Eight students were found with no vital signs while more than 30 people were injured, Japan’s Kyodo news agency said.

About 70 people including students and teachers from several schools are said to have been in the area at the time.

Rescue efforts are under way but bad weather and heavy snowfall have hampered the operation.

Ski slopeImage copyrightAPImage captionThe area has seen heavy snow since Sunday

The children were taking part in a large scale mountain climbing event involving seven schools, local media reports said.

The area around the town of Nasu has several ski resorts. The region has received heavy snow over the past two days and avalanche warnings had been in effect.

Japanese rescue officials usually wait for a doctor at a hospital to pronounce victims dead instead of doing it at the scene, said the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Tokyo.

Map showing Nasu in Japan

Rescue workers at the scene

Image copyrightAPImage captionRescue efforts are investigating whether more people are injured or missing

Rescue helicopters are still unable to reach the scene, because of bad weather. The area has seen more than 30cm of fresh snow since Sunday.

Recent warm weather has further raised the avalanche risk.

source: BBC