Australian Family of Four Rescued After Night on Japanese Mountain

Tokyo (AP) -- A family of four believed to be from Australia has been rescued after becoming lost on a ski resort in central Japan, where they survived the night reportedly inside a hole they dug in the snow.

Police said Tuesday that the family — a woman in her 50s and her three sons — went off course while skiing near the 1,650-meter (5,413-foot) peak of Nozawa Onsen ski resort the previous day. Rescuers were unable to find the family Monday night, but found them walking down a hiking trail early Tuesday.

Media reports say the family dug a hole in the snow and sat inside it.

Police spokesman Yuichiro Miyasaka said the four appeared to be unhurt, but were taken to a local hospital as a precaution. It was not known whether they knowingly skiing outside the designated areas, which some skiers do to try unbeaten tracks. Police have cautioned against going off course because of a growing number of accidents and searches.

Television footage showed the four wrapped blankets as they were escorted to ambulances.

A rescue official said the four were shivering a lot when they were found. "They don't seem to have carried any food or supplies, so I believe they had a rough night," the official, whose name was not given, told public broadcaster NHK and other TV stations.

The rescue comes after a strong snowstorm hit northern Japan over the weekend, leaving five people dead and injuring nearly 70 people across the country by Tuesday morning, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.

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