An active island volcano in Japan’s Kagoshima Prefecture erupted over the weekend, prompting evacuations.
The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) raised the alert level for Sakurajima from level 3 to level 5 and advised people to evacuate after the summit crater in the volcano’s southern peak, Minami-dake, saw an explosive eruption at around 8:05 p.m. Sunday, Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported.
It was the first time the level — the highest on the JMA’s five-point scale — was issued for the volcano since the system was first introduced in 2007.
In total, four eruptions were reportedly observed in Sakurajima’s Minami-dake crater from Saturday to Sunday afternoon, with plumes rising up to 1,200 meters.
Hundreds of people were advised to evacuate their communities after Sunday’s eruption, according to MSNBC.
Kagoshima City issued evacuation orders for 51 people in 33 households in the towns of Arimura and Furusato, which were within a 3-kilometer (1.86-mile) radius of Sakurajima’s Minami-dake and Showa craters.
The evacuation of all the target households was confirmed Sunday night, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK.
Meanwhile, the JMA called on remaining residents to be on high alert after a large rock flew around 2.5 kilometers (1.55 miles) from one of Sakurajima’s craters.
The agency also warned that pyroclastic flows could occur within a 2-kilometer (1.24-mile) radius of two of the island’s craters.
There have been no reports of injuries so far, according to Yomiuri Shimbun.
Sakurajima is one of the most active volcanoes in Japan, and a previous eruption in January spewed a cloud of ash miles into the air.
An eruption from the volcano back in 1914, now referred to as the Taisho eruption, killed 58 people. Such a large-scale eruption was not imminent, the JMA insisted during a press conference Sunday.
However, the agency will monitor the volcano as its body supposedly expanded after the eruption. The prefectural government and police are also monitoring the situation from the air via helicopters.
The JMA has reportedly observed minor crustal movements that indicated expansion since July 18.
No irregularities have been detected in the nearby Sendai nuclear power plant, Japan’s nuclear regulators said.