Dozens of people have evacuated two citiesthe main southern island of Kyushu, where a In the night sky scattered ashes and large rocks. Rocks fell 1.5 miles away Sunday night in the southern prefecture of Kagoshima.
Footage from Japan’s NHK public television showed orange flames glowing near the crater and dark smoke with ash rising above the top of the mountain.
Japan’s Meteorological Agency raised the eruption warning to a high of five and advised 51 residents in the two cities facing the volcano to leave their homes. According to AFP, Japan last issued a top evacuation alert for the volcano, when Kuchinoerabu Island in Kagoshima also erupted in 2015.
According to the city of Kagoshima, as of Monday morning, 33 of them left their homes for a nursing care facility in a safer part of the area. NHK said others subject to evacuation could be moved to other locations.
“We will put people’s lives first and do our best to assess the situation and deal with any emergency,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki told reporters. He called on residents to pay close attention to updates from local authorities to protect their lives.
Ash dust was visible on cars in Kagoshima, but no damage or injuries have been reported. Area schools are on summer break, but are closed on Mondays for clubs and extra-curricular activities.
The Meteorological Agency warned of falling volcanic rocks within 1.8 miles of the crater and a possible flow of lava, ash and searing gas within 1.2 miles.
More explosive violent eruptions were less likely, but residents should still be on the alert for falling rocks, mudslides and pyroclastic flows, said Tsuyoshi Nakatsuji, the meteorological agency official in charge of the volcano watch. He advised residents to close the curtains and stay away from windows, which could break due to the explosion.
Sakurajima, on the main southern island of Kyushu, is one of Japan’s most active volcanoes and has erupted repeatedly. It used to be an island but became a peninsula after an eruption in 1914 that killed 58 people.
Sakurajima is about 600 miles southwest of Tokyo.