Volcanic eruption in Japan spreads ash in four cities, towns

TOKYO (AP) – A volcano in southwestern Japan is erupting for the first time in six years and spread ash in nearby cities and towns.

Japanese broadcaster TBS showed elementary school students wearing helmets and masks yesterday on the way to their school at the foot of the Shinmoedake volcano.

Residents also described hearing rumbles from the volcano and ash fell in at least four cities and towns in Miyazaki prefecture.

The volcano on the border of Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures started erupting Wednesday for the first time in six years.

Yesterday, an ash plume rose 1,700 metres from the crater, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

Volcanic smoke rises from the Shinmoedake volcano after its eruption in the border of Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures, southwestern Japan yesterday. – AP

The agency has raised the volcanic alert level from two to three on a scale of five. Level 3 warns people to not approach the volcano.

Pyroclastic flow, which is an emission of hot gases and volcanic matter at a high speed, is possible within two kilometres of the crater.

Emissions of ash and volcanic rocks were forecast through today for a wider area, but the locations at risk would depend on wind conditions and altitude.