Remains from U.S.'s Mount St. Helens belong to Japanese hiker

SEATTLE Tue Aug 19, 2014 1:07pm EDT

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SEATTLE (Reuters) - Human remains discovered on Washington state's Mount St. Helens have been identified as a Japanese hiker who went missing last November while trying to climb to the volcano's summit alone, officials said Tuesday.

Yosuke Onishi's remains were found during a search earlier this month near where he was believed to have gone missing, about 7,100 feet (2,164 meter) up the south slope of the 8,300-foot (2,530-meter) summit, the Skamania County Sheriff's Office said.

His identity was confirmed by the medical examiner's office in nearby Clark County, which also borders the well-known peak. It was still unclear how the 26-year-old died.

"Once the reports are forwarded from the Medical Examiner's Office, our Coroner can hopefully make an official determination on cause of death," said Skamania County Undersheriff Dave Cox.

Onishi had set out Nov. 27 from an area hotel, borrowing snow shoes and telling staff he planned to summit the active volcano on his own. He was reported missing after failing to pick up his personal items from the hotel.

A search was launched but suspended after several weeks due to snowy winter conditions.

His family in Japan was notified of his body's Aug. 9 recovery, and his remains are being sent home to Japan, the sheriff's office said.

Mount St. Helens, which lies in southwestern Washington between Seattle and Portland, is well-known for erupting in an explosion of hot ash in May 1980, spewing debris over a wide area, killing 57 people and causing more than a billion dollars in damage.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Frank McGurty and Susan Heavey)

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