Singaporean woman among four lost hikers rescued from Hokkaido mountain

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Four hikers, including a Singaporean woman, who went missing while descending Hokkaido's tallest mountain Asahidake on Tuesday, are safe.

They were found at 5.45pm (4.45pm Singapore time) yesterday, 22 hours after they made a distress call to the police. They had spent a night on the mountain without a tent in temperatures below -7 deg Celsius.

Asahidake, at 2,291 metres tall, towers over a hot springs resort village by the same name in Higashikawa town in central Hokkaido.

The hikers were found conscious near a water source, about 1.5km south-east of the mountain's ropeway station at about 1,600m above sea level.

The group included an elderly Japanese couple - Yokohama native Masahiko Kato, 71, and his wife Yumiko, 65 - and a duo in their 20s who reportedly identified themselves to police as a Malaysian man and a Singaporean woman.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK said that the four hikers were able to converse with emergency responders when they were found, although the younger man was showing symptoms of hypothermia.

About 130 personnel from the Hokkaido police force's mountain rescue team and the military were reportedly involved in the search operation.

Police urged mountaineers not to underestimate the climb, which under perfect conditions would take five hours.

According to Mr Kato, the group decided to turn back near the eighth station as the weather took a bad turn, but as visibility dropped and night fell, they took a wrong turn near the seventh station - at an elevation of about 1,930m - and found themselves stranded with no food and very little water.