Local Japanese firefighters have recently been in the firing line for accidentally dropping a mountain climber while being lifted by a rescue helicopter near the summit of Mount Fuji on Dec. 1. They have consequently apologized for failing to save the said climber who was one of four who had slipped in their efforts to climb the 3,776-meter mountain. A rescue operation ensued, and as the specific climber was being lifted to a rescue helicopter, his harness came loose and he ended up falling three meters to the ground. Subsequent attempts to rescue him failed and he was confirmed dead together with another climber when their bodies were recovered and brought to hospital the next day.
Local police have identified the two dead climbers as Yoshiaki Takahashi, 55, a teacher from Kyoto’s Minami Ward, and Toshiaki Yano, 61, a carpenter from Nakagyo Ward in Kyoto. Shizuoka City officials believe Takahashi was the one who was dropped from the helicopter. Prefectural police plan to investigate the rescue operation and question the rescue workers involved to determine whether it was carried out appropriately. According to collected information, the helicopter arrived at the scene at about 3:45 p.m. on Dec. 1. Rescuers began lifting Takahashi to safety after receiving a response from him. But 30 meters into the air, the harness around his chest and sides came loose. Two rescue workers grabbed him and the helicopter started to be lowered, but several minutes later, rescuers lost their grip and Takahashi fell.
The rescuers tried to rescue him again but were unable to do so due to the weather, and rescuers were physically exhausted so they gave up trying to rescue him that day. “It’s really regrettable that we were unable to save him, and we’re sorry,” a representative of the Shizuoka City fire department said. Two other members of the climbing party were safe and were taken to a hospital on the evening of Dec. 1.