3 Bodies Found in Crater on Mount Fuji After Missing Climber Sent Photos from Summit to Family

Separately, 38-year-old Keita Kurakami, a rock climbing ambassador for Patagonia Inc., was found unconscious and pronounced dead at a local hospital

<p>Getty</p> Mount Fuji in Japan


Mount Fuji in Japan

Three bodies were found this week, bringing the total number of deaths reported among climbers summiting Japan's Mount Fuji ahead of the start of climbing season to four.

The trio of bodies were found Wednesday, June 26, inside the volcano’s crater, according to The Japan Times and the Associated Press.

Rescue crews came across the bodies while they were searching for a 53-year-old man who was reported missing on Sunday, June 23, Japan Today and national broadcaster NHK reported. The climbers are all thought to have ascended separately.

The 53-year-old man, identified as Eriko Takahashi, left on the evening of Friday, June 21, and sent his family photos taken near the summit the following day, per The New York Times.

Authorities are now looking to identify the victims and determine how they died.

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Additionally, 38-year-old professional climber Keita Kurakami died at a local hospital on June 26, after losing consciousness while scaling the volcano, according to the AP and Japan Today.

Kurakami was a rock climbing ambassador for the outdoor clothing company Patagonia Inc., per Japan Today and the New York Times.

Patagonia did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

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Climbing season on Mount Fuji technically has not begun. The volcano officially opens to climbers for the season on Monday, July 1.

Mount Fuji is covered by snow for most of the year, making the period between July and September the best time to climb.

Many climbers scale the volcano at night in hopes of catching a glimpse of the sunrise from the summit, according to the Times.

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Up to 300,000 people visit the volcano each year, per the AP. Temperatures on the volcano can drop drastically at any time of year, making preparedness important for climbers.

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