TOKYO: Dozens of people evacuated two cities on Japanthe main southern island of Kyushu, where a volcano spewed ash and large boulders into the night sky.
Large boulders fell up to 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) from the sakurajima volcano on Sunday evening in the southern prefecture of Kagoshima. Pictures about Japan NHK public television showed flashing orange flames near the crater and black smoke with ash rising above the mountain peak.
Japan’s meteorological agency raised the eruption alert to the highest level of five and advised 51 residents of two towns facing the volcano to leave their homes.
On Monday morning, 33 of them left their homes for a nursing facility in a safer part of the region, according to the city of Kagoshima. NHK said other subjects for evacuation could have been evacuated to other locations.
“We will put people’s lives first and do everything we can to assess the situation and respond to any emergencies,” the deputy cabinet secretary said. Yoshihiko Isozaki told reporters. He called on residents to pay close attention to updates from local authorities to protect their lives.
No damage or injuries have been reported so far. The volcano’s crater was obscured by inclement weather on Monday morning.
JMA warned of the possibility of volcanic rock falls within 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) of the crater and a possible flow of lava, ash and burning gas within 2 kilometers (1.2 miles).
Chances of more explosive violent eruptions were low, but residents should still be alert for rockfalls, mudslides and pyroclastic flows, said Tsuyoshi Nakatsuji, a JMA volcano monitoring official. He also advised residents to draw curtains and stay away from windows, which could shatter from the force of an eruption.
Sakurajima on the southern main island of Kyushu is one of Japan’s most active volcanoes and has erupted several times. Once an island, it became a peninsula following an eruption in 1914 that killed 58 people.
Sakurajima is about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) southwest of Tokyo.