Sakurajima Volcano Erupts 50km From Japan’s Sendai Nuclear Plant

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Japan’s Meteorological Agency has issued an orange warning as the Sakurajima volcano erupted sending lava down its slope and spewing ash and stones into the night sky.

Lightning flashed above the flowing lava as the Sakurajima erupted on the southern island of Kyushu at around 7 p.m on Friday evening

The Sendai nuclear plant which is located 50 kms (30 miles) from the volcano, was the first to be restarted after 2011’s Fukushima disaster, despite local opposition and meteorologists’ warnings, following tremors in the nearby volcano.

Just days after it was restarted in August last year, residents in the area were evacuated after an alert for the volcano was raised to its second highest level.

A Sakurajima eruption in 1914, was the most powerful in 20th century Japan, with lava flow permanently connecting the former island volcano to the Kyushu mainland.

The Japan Times reports:

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The Meteorological Agency banned entry to the area, expanding an existing no-go zone around the crater to a 2-kilometer radius.

Given the eruption, the weather agency upgraded the volcanic alert from level 2 to level 3, which prohibits people from entering the mountain. The agency warned areas near residential districts on the mountain’s foot could be gravely affected.

Kazuhiro Ishihara, professor emeritus at Kyoto University and an volcano expert, was quoted by NHK as saying that the eruption was unlikely to have an immediate serious impact on nearby residential areas because the live video images appeared to show rocks flying only 2 km from the mountain’s top.

Friday’s eruption, while dramatic, was average compared to Sakurajima’s past eruptions, Ishihara told NHK.

At a news conference in Tokyo, an agency official said Sakurajima’s volcanic activity is likely to continue, adding that Friday’s eruption is probably a resumption of the previous eruptions that had continued until the mountain’s last major eruption in September.