TOKYO, March 27 (Xinhua) -- Eight students hit by an avalanche on a ski slope in Japan's Tochigi Prefecture were found displaying no vital signs on Monday morning, and 30 other people were injured in the avalanche, local authorities said.
They said the avalanche occurred on a ski slope during a spring mountaineering workshop in the town of Nasu in Tochigi Prefecture.
More than 60 students from seven different high schools and a dozen teachers were believed to be on the slope when the avalanche occurred, local media said.
The avalanche struck the Nasu onsen Family Ski Resort in the morning, while students were taking part in a springtime climbing event, local media reports said, adding that the avalanche is believed to have occurred on the upper side of a slope at the ski resort that ended this season's operation last Monday.
Emergency calls were received following the avalanche at 9:20 a.m. local time by emergency dispatchers. The teachers and students began their mountaineering activities on the slope at around 7:30 a.m. local time on Monday, a representative of one of the schools said.
The springtime climbing event began on Saturday and was supposed to finish at noon on Monday, a school spokesperson also said.
The students and teachers from several different schools were taking part in a springtime climbing event when the accident happened, said the reports.
The Tochigi Fire and Disaster Prevention Division said that rescue measures are currently ongoing.
The prefectural Board of Education in the area said that 66 people, including 11 faculty members, joined the climbing workshop from seven high schools in the prefecture and were all concurrently receiving workshops to do with mountaineering on three different slopes when the disaster happened.
The central government has set up a task force at the crisis management center of the prime minister's office and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said during a parliamentary session Monday that his government "will make every effort to respond to the disaster, while making it a top priority to rescue victims of the avalanche."
Tochigi Prefecture is located in the Kanto region just north of Tokyo on the island of Honshu and its capital is the city of Utsunomiya.