A volcano on Japan’s western island of Kyushu has erupted, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people. Sakurajima began erupting at about 8.05pm (11.05am GMT) on Sunday, the Japanese Meteorological Agency has said.
There were reports of volanic stones raining down at a distance of 2.5km (1.5 miles) from the volcano, NHK public television said. The eruption alert level has been raised to 5, the highest level, with some areas advised to evacuate, it added.
Sakurajima is one of Japan’s most active volcanos, and eruptions of varying levels take place on a frequent basis. In 2019, it spewed ash 5.5km (3.4 miles) high.
Video footage from Sunday’s eruption showed what appeared to be a red mass flowing down one side of the volcano, with red projectiles shooting out, while smoke, which was hard to see in the darkness, billowed up.
Most of the city of Kagoshima is across the bay from the volcano, but several residential areas within about 3km (1.9 miles) of the crater may be ordered to evacuate, NHK said.
Officials at prime minister Fumio Kishida’s office were gathering information about the situation, but have so far advised the government to take steps to protect lives following the eruption.
Japan’s nuclear regulator has confirmed that there are currently no irregularities detected at the Sendai nuclear power plant, which is close to Sakurajima, following the eruption.