What started as a snow-filled trip for seven schools in Japan has ended in tragedy. The BBC reports that eight high school students are believed to have been killed in an avalanche that hit a ski resort 90 miles north of Tokyo on Monday. Some 70 students and teachers were believed to have been present, with about half those who survived suffering injuries. The incident occurred near Nasu, which has seen about a foot of snow fall since Sunday. That snow "condensed [with the warmer weather], and then once you have somebody on top of that, that creates a trigger," a meteorologist tells the Guardian. "These are all a recipe for avalanche creation." Indeed, an avalanche warning was in effect at the time.
The Japan Times and Guardian report the ski season had closed last week at the Nasuonsen Family Ski Resort; the students who arrived Saturday were about two-and-a-half hours away from the conclusion of Monday's climbing event when the avalanche struck near the upper part of the slope. NBC News specifies that the weekend event was a "mountain climbing safety training exercise." (Read more avalanche stories.)