Japanese volcano: People evacuate after Sakurajima erupts

Sakurajima volcano blew rock into the sky that landed 1.5 miles away (Photo: AP)

Japan’s prime minister has ordered officials to take action to save lives after a volcanic eruption on the country’s large western island of Kyushu.

Evacuations are underway, with the eruption warning level being raised to the country’s highest level of 5.

There were reports of rocks spewing from the Sakurajima volcano and coming to Earth 2.5 km (1.5 miles) away, public broadcaster NHK said.

The volcano is one of Japan’s most active and eruptions of various levels occur on a regular basis. In 2019, it spewed as much as 5.5 km (3.4 miles) high.

Video footage of the current eruption showed what appeared to be a red mass flowing down one side of the volcano, with red projectiles shooting out as smoke billowed into the night sky.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki said: ‘We will put people’s lives first and do our best to assess the situation and respond to any emergency.’

The eruption occurred at 8.05pm (12.05pm UK time), the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.

An aerial view of Mount Sakurajima, one of Japan’s most active volcanoes (Photo: Reuters)

It added that around 120 residents in two towns were told to evacuate.

The agency warned of falling volcanic rock in areas within 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) of the crater, as well as possible lava and ash flows and burning gas within 2 kilometers (1.2 miles).

There were no immediate reports of damage and two hours after the eruption a spokesman for the Government said that they had not heard of any damage either.

Most of the city of Kagoshima is across the volcano’s bay, but several residential areas are within about 3 km (1.9 miles) of the crater – and NHK said they may be ordered to evacuate.

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Japanese nuclear regulators said Sunday that no irregularities were detected at the Sendai nuclear power plant, which is located about 50 km (31 miles) northwest of Sakurajima.

Officials at Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s office are said to be gathering information on the situation as it develops.

The mountain was once an island, but became a peninsula after an eruption in 1914.

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Japanese volcano: People evacuate after Sakurajima erupts

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