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Searchers find 4 more victims on Japanese volcano after surprise eruption, raising toll to 51

In this photo taken Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014 and released by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF), JGSDF personnel and fire fighters climb the ash-covered slope, heading for the summit of Mount Ontake to rescue people who have been trapped in the mountaintop lodge during the eruption, one day after the volcano became active in central Japan. AP Photo/The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force

TOKYO – Rescuers on Saturday retrieved four more bodies near the summit of a Japanese volcano that erupted last weekend, raising the death toll to 51, authorities said.

More than 900 rescue workers resumed searching the slopes after rain had halted their activity the previous day, Nagano prefecture said in a statement.

READ MORE: Why wasn’t there a warning in Mount Ontake volcano eruption?

The four bodies were near the ash-covered summit area of 3,067-meter (about 10,000-foot) Mount Ontake in central Japan.

Many hikers had been resting or having lunch in the summit area when the surprise eruption threw out large rocks, ash and fumes a week ago.

It was not immediately known if the four were among the 16 people that authorities said are believed still missing.

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Most of those who died and many of the nearly 70 injured were hit by boulders or rocks that flew out of the crater.

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