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A screengrab from a Japan Meteorological Agency surveillance camera shows an eruption on Mount Asama, on the border of Gunma and Nagano prefectures in central Japan. Photo: AFP

Volcano erupts near Tokyo, prompting warnings of ash and gas

  • Mount Asama has erupted for the first time in four years, sending ash and smoke nearly two kilometres into the sky
  • Authorities warn nearby towns could be hit by small rocks and ash

A volcano near Tokyo has erupted for the first time in four years, throwing ash and smoke nearly two kilometres into the sky and sparking warnings not to approach the mountain.

Mount Asama, some 140km northwest of the Japanese capital, exploded on Wednesday night and prompted the national meteorological agency to raise its alert level to three out of five, meaning people should avoid the area and stay away from the crater.

An expert at Japan's Meteorological Agency volcanological division speaks about the eruption of Mount Asama. Photo: AFP

The agency warned that large rocks and fast-moving flows of hot gas could affect a radius of four kilometres from the crater and that nearby towns could be hit by smaller rocks and ash, depending on prevailing winds.

The eruption occurred at 10:08pm near the crater of the 2,568-metre volcano, with smoke reaching about 1,800 metres above the mountain, according to the agency.

An official said on Thursday that gas was still being thrown into the air but at a “normal” level.


“We don’t see activity picking up,” he said.

Mount Asama last erupted in June 2015. There were no injuries in the small eruption.

Japan, with scores of active volcanoes, sits on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where a large proportion of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are recorded.

In January 2018, a Japanese soldier was killed and several other people injured after an eruption near a popular ski resort northwest of Tokyo.

Ash from Sakurajima volcano eruption blocks out the sun in Japan

On September 27, 2014, Japan suffered its deadliest eruption in almost 90 years when Mount Ontake, in central Nagano prefecture, burst unexpectedly to life.


Dozens of people were killed in the shock eruption, which occurred as the peak was packed with hikers out to see the region’s spectacular autumn colours.