Volcano in southern Japan erupts

2016-10-08 22:27
(Hiroko Harima, AP)

(Hiroko Harima, AP)

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Tokyo - Mount Aso in southern Japan sent huge plumes of gray smoke as high as 11km into the air on Saturday in one of the volcano's biggest explosions in years.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the explosion in the early hours of Saturday also blew off bits of volcanic rock and ash and raised the alert level for the area, extending the entry ban from just around the volcanic mouth to the mountain itself.

Footage on Japan's NHK public television showed orange flames flickering from several locations on the mountaintop as the volcano emitted thick gray smoke billowing into the sky.

There are no homes within the off-limit area and no injuries or major damage have been reported in nearby towns, though buildings and cars were covered with thick ash falls. Flights were largely unaffected, except for some delays.

Aso city, about 10km north of the volcano, set up evacuation centres as a precaution. Residents were washing off ash from external walls, plants and the streets before it dries up and spreads farther. Media reports said some ash falls were detected in parts of western Japan.

The area is still recovering from deadly earthquakes in April.

Mount Aso has repeatedly had smaller eruptions in recent years. The agency said it was not known if the volcano's recent activity was related to the earthquakes earlier this year, but it's in an unstable condition and could erupt again.

Japan sits atop the Pacific "ring of fire" and has more than 100 volcanoes.

Read more on:    japan  |  natural disasters

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