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Honeymoon adventure on Hokkaido’s tallest peak turned harrowing ordeal for couple

SINGAPORE — The hike up and down Hokkaido’s tallest peak typically takes about five hours to complete. So Singaporean Amelda Lim, 28, and her Malaysian husband Long Ji Yung, 27, did not bring much food with them on their journey, much less lug along a tent.

Honeymoon adventure on Hokkaido’s tallest peak turned harrowing ordeal for couple

Photo: Hokkaido Prefectural Police via Kyodo News

SINGAPORE — The hike up and down Hokkaido’s tallest peak typically takes about five hours to complete. So Singaporean Amelda Lim, 28, and her Malaysian husband Long Ji Yung, 27, did not bring much food with them on their journey, much less lug along a tent.

But, when they took a wrong turn and the snowy weather took a turn for the worse, their honeymoon adventure turned into a harrowing ordeal at the 2,291m-tall Asahidake, where they spent two nights battling winds in temperatures as low as minus 7 degree Celsius.

Close to 22 hours after distress calls were first made, they were found conscious with an elderly Japanese couple at 5.45pm, Japan time (4.45pm, Singapore time) on Wednesday (Oct 18) after a search and rescue operation involving some 130 police and military personnel from the Hokkaido prefecture.

According to Facebook user Koichi Toba, who identified himself as a member of the rescue team, the quartet was found at an altitude of 1,564m near the mouth of a river. The couples got acquainted with one another after realising they were lost around 1.5km southeast of the upper station of the Daisetsuyama Asahidake ropeway.

But, even after they were found by the rescue team, they had to spend a second night in the open as the helicopter could not be activated as thick fog affected the visibility.

They were eventually airlifted to safety at about 6.10am on Thursday.

Videos provided by the Hokkaido Police showed one of the foursome being helped out of a green tent, before being hoisted up a helicopter.

Upon being rescued, Mr Long showed signs of hypothermia and had to be put on a stretcher. The other hikers were fatigued but could walk. The quartet are now recuperating at the Asahikawa Medical University Hospital, which is about 44km away.

When TODAY tried to reach Mr Long on Thursday to get an account of his experience, his friend asked for privacy and declined the interview on his behalf.

According to their LinkedIn profiles, Mr Long is an accounts executive at Japanese travel agency JTB Singapore, while Ms Lim is a senior designer at Siren Design Group.

Japanese news outlets identified the Japanese couple as Yokohama-native Masahiko Kato, 71, and his wife Yumiko, 65. Mr Kato reportedly told the police the quartet took a wrong turn at about 7.35pm on Tuesday and were lost. Ms Lim made another distress call at 8pm.

As little was known about the hikers’ whereabouts by 3am the following day, Hokkaido’s Ground Self-Defence Force was activated for the search and rescue operation.

“The four waited in a mortar-shaped place that sheltered them from the wind. I believed they survived because they kept still there, so they didn’t wear themselves out,” Japanese media quoted Mr Kazutaka Nishimura, a police officer who led the rescue mission, as saying.

A member of the Ground Self-Defence Force added: “The temperature in the vicinity felt like minus-20 degrees Celsius, and visibility was bad. Considering the harsh environment, we are glad the four are safe.”

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