More than 100 people have been ordered to evacuate after a volcano erupted on the tiny southern Japanese island of Kuchinoerabu on Friday morning.
Spectacular TV footage captured the moment Mount Shindake exploded, sending columns of thick, black smoke high into the air.
Japan’s meteorological agency raised the alert level to five – the highest on its scale – and ordered the island’s 140 residents to evacuate.
The agency said no injuries or damage had been reported following the eruption, which occurred eight months after 57 people died after Mount Ontake in central Japan erupted without warning.
The agency added that pyroclastic flows, dense currents of rock fragments and hot gases from the volcano had reached the island’s north-west shore.
In Tokyo, the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, set up an emergency response team and dispatched a self-defence force to the island. Abe said he had instructed local authorities to do “everything possible” to ensure the islanders’ safety.
Yoshihide Suga, the government’s chief spokesman, said a coastguard vessel had also been sent to help residents evacuate.
A local official said the eruption, which occurred without warning, had forced about 100 people to take shelter at an evacuation centre. “There was a really loud sound of an explosion, and then black smoke rose, darkening the sky,” Nobuaki Hayashi told the national broadcaster NHK. “It smells of sulphur.”
Source: The Guardian