- Mount Aso – Japan’s most active volcano – erupted at around 11:48 am on Wednesday.
- Japanese officials are warning people to steer clear of the threat of lava flows and falling rocks.
- JMA representative warned during a televised press conference that toxic gas may also be emitting from the volcano.
Japanese officials are warning people to stay clear of Mount Aso, on the southern island of Kyushu, as Japan’s most active volcano erupts, spewing hot gases and ash few miles up into the sky.
Local police said there were no reports so far of casualties or missing individuals. They said that 16 hikers who had been on the mountainside earlier that day had returned safely.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, Mount Aso, a tourist destination on the country’s main southern island of Kyushu, spewed plumes of ash 3.5km (2.2 miles) high on Wednesday when it erupted at about 11:43am (02:43 GMT).
The meteorological agency set the alert level for those in the vicinity of the 1,592-metre (5,222ft) volcano to three out of five on its danger scale. Owing to the risk of large falling rocks and pyroclastic flows within 1km (0.6 miles) of the vast Nakadake crater, people were told not to approach the area.
“Human lives are our priority, and we are working with the Self Defense Forces, police, and firefighters to effectively deal with the situation,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said.
Mt Aso’s nearest populated city is Aso, which has a population of about 26,500 people.
Mount Aso had a small eruption in 2019, while Japan’s worst volcanic disaster in nearly 90 years killed 63 people on Mount Ontake in September 2014.
Japan is home to more than 100 volcanoes, and seismic activity in the region is high. Last Thursday, a half-mile exclusion zone had been established around Mount Aso after a minor eruption.
Alongside volcanic eruptions, earthquakes are also common in Japan, one of the most seismically active areas on Earth. Japan accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.