Alert raised: Japan’s Shinmoe volcano erupts for first time in six years

The alert level for Shinmoe, a volcano in Japan’s southwestern Kyushu region, has been raised to 3 on a scale 5 after a small-scale eruption

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 October, 2017, 2:06pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 October, 2017, 11:31pm

A volcano on the southwestern main island of Kyushu erupted early Wednesday for the first time in six years, prompting the Japan Meteorological Agency to raise its volcanic alert level.

Mount Shinmoe, straddling the borders of Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures, had been showing intensifying volcanic activity, such as an increasing number of volcanic earthquakes, since late last month, the agency said.

The eruption occurred at around 5:34am, with the plume rising about 300 metres above the crater. A small amount of ash fell in the town of Takaharu in Miyazaki but no injuries or damage have been reported so far, according to local police.

The agency warned that volcanic activities could further intensify as swelling of the mountain was observed.

The alert level for Shinmoe has been raised to 3 on a scale of 5. A level 3 alert advises people not to approach the volcano. The top level 5 would order evacuation.

Glass windows can be shattered by explosive eruptions, while downwind regions can also encounter ash and small flying rocks, the agency said.

In Takaharu, some people walked while holding an umbrella as volcanic ash fell on roads. Yoshinari Imanishi, 66, a senior official of a local tourism association, was worried about possible negative impact from the eruption, saying: “We were hit by cancellations of accommodation six years ago. I hope (the eruption) will not affect autumn outing season.”

The last major eruption of the volcano, which is part of the Kirishima mountain range, occurred September 7, 2011.

The government set up a liaison unit to gather information at the prime minister’s office. The Kagoshima and Miyazaki meteorological offices will dispatch personnel to the area to assess the situation.

Additional reporting by Reuters