Volcano erupts in Japan; no reports of damage, injuries

Eruption registered as moderate on the Weather Agency's scale.

volcano lava 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
volcano lava 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
A volcano erupted in southern Japan, spewing a plume of smoke about 1,000 meters into the air, the Weather Agency said. There were no reports of damage or injuries. Mount Sakurajima erupted Wednesday and registered as moderate on the agency's scale for both the sound and the strength of the tremors it caused, according to a volcano bulletin. The eruption followed several smaller ones in recent days, but there was no other significant change in volcanic activity, the bulletin said. "We do not believe that a large-scale eruption is imminent," said agency official Akira Otani. Authorities in the area have received no immediate reports of damage or injuries, according police official Shoichi Araki in Kagoshima city, across the bay from the volcano. There has been ash falling in the city for several days, he added. The 1,117-meter high Sakurajima is one of Japan's most active volcanoes, and clouds of ash constantly drift from its crater. It sits in Kagoshima Bay, about 950 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. Sakurajima's last major eruption was in October 2000, when smoke rose about 5,000 meters into the air and blanketed Kagoshima city in dust. That eruption did not cause any injuries. With 108 active volcanoes, Japan is among the most seismically active countries in the world. The nation lies in the "Ring of Fire" - a series of volcanoes and fault lines that outline the Pacific Ocean. In 2000, an eruption at a volcano on Miyake Island, about 180 kilometers east of Tokyo, forced all 4,000 islanders to evacuate the island. About half of them returned last year after the evacuation order was lifted. The country's most famous volcano is the 3,776-meter Mount Fuji, which experts say has a moderate risk of eruption. It last erupted in 1707, sprinkling Tokyo with ash.