Volcano spews ash and smoke over Japanese towns

January 31, 2011 03:15

TOKYO— About 600 people were returning home Monday after seeking shelter overnight as a volcano in southern Japan spewed ash and smoke over nearby towns.

Hirokazu Taniyama, an official in Miyazaki, said Monday that 612 people stayed in elementary schools for the night after volcanic activity increased Sunday. He said most of them were returning home.

The explosive eruption at the 4,662-foot (1,421-meter) Shinmoedake volcano Thursday was its first major eruption in 52 years. Releases of ash and smoke have continued since then.

Taniyama said nobody has been injured in the eruptions. The government has restricted access to the mountain.

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