Fri, Jan 18, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Volcano shoots ash over Japanese island

AFP, TOKYO

A column of smoke rises from Mount Shindake after its eruption on Japan’s Kuchinoerabu Island yesterday.

Photo: AP / Kyodo News

A Japanese volcano yesterday erupted, spewing ash and smoke 6km into the air over a small southern island.

There were no reports of injuries or damage from the eruption on Kuchinoerabu, in the far south of Japan.

There had been no evacuations on the island, which is home to just 109 people, a local official said.

Images broadcast by Japan Broadcasting Corp showed large plumes of ash and gray smoke billowing over the island, which has regularly been affected by eruptions.

“We heard a huge explosion and there was shaking like an earthquake,” a resident told the broadcaster.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the eruption occurred just after it had issued a warning.

“There have been eruptions there since last year, but we sent an alert out [this morning] for this latest eruption, as it will have a wider impact,” volcanic activity division official Jun Fujimatsu said.

“We have maintained a level three warning, which means a ban on entering the volcano area,” Fujimatsu told reporters.

“There are several craters at the volcano... The danger zone is 2km from the Shindake crater,” he said. “We do not think the latest eruption will engulf the entire island.”

The plume of smoke and ash from the eruption rose 6km, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

“But there is no impact on the community and no injury or damage has been reported,” he told reporters.

There are “71 households comprising 109 people living on the island, including some who are just a few kilometers from the crater,” local official Shogo Sado told reporters.

He confirmed that no evacuations had yet been ordered, but said that preparations were being made in case it became necessary to move people, some of whom are elderly and frail.

In 2015, all 140 people living on the island were evacuated after a violent eruption that sent black clouds up as high as 9km and produced a five-minute volcanic earthquake.

Japan, which has scores of active volcanoes, sits on the so-called Pacific “ring of fire,” where a large proportion of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are recorded.

In January last year, a Japanese soldier was killed and several other people injured after an eruption near a popular ski resort northwest of Tokyo.

On Sept. 27, 2014, Japan suffered its deadliest eruption in almost 90 years when Mount Ontake, in central Nagano Prefecture, burst unexpectedly to life.

Dozens of people were killed in the shock eruption, which occurred as the peak was packed with hikers out to see the region’s spectacular autumn colors.

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