• Kyodo

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Hokkaido residents who remain at evacuation facilities following the eruption of Mount Usu in late March expressed concern Tuesday for the inhabitants of Miyake Island, south of Tokyo, following the Meteorological Agency’s prediction of an imminent volcanic eruption there earlier in the day.

Among those at an evacuation facility in the town of Abuta, Hokkaido, was 65-year-old housewife Atsuko Miura, who has been living there for three months.

Miura, acknowledging the similarity of their situations, expressed sympathy for the Miyake islanders. “Their situation is scary because in the case of Miyake Island, there may be a stream of lava.”

Toshimasa Tsukahachi, a 50-year-old hotel employee, said he hopes there will be no eruption. The islanders must be suffering mental anguish, considering that “evacuation of an island is not easy,” he said. Abuta Mayor Yoshio Nagasaki said he believes the rapid provision of advance information on emergency measures for the island was made possible due to the precedent set by Mount Usu’s recent series of eruptions.

According to earlier reports, a volcanic eruption seemed imminent after more than 2,400 quakes jolted Miyake Island and heat was detected on the western part of the summit of Mount Oyama, in the middle of the island. About 2,600 of Miyake Island’s 3,850 residents have been evacuated from three districts of the island.

Meanwhile, Hiromu Okada, chairman of the local section of the Coordinating Committee for the Prediction of Volcanic Eruptions, said Tuesday that aerial observations have shown that volcanic activity at Mount Usu seems to be “lessening.”

“Activity at Mount Usu is seen to be moving in the direction of slowing down, given such signs as repeated suspensions of seismic activity,” Okada said. He added there has been a decline in volcanic tremors since late Sunday.

He warned, however, “there is still energy for volcanic debris to fly from the crater and reach distant places. I think seismic activity will not stop so easily.”

On March 31, Mount Usu erupted for the first time in 23 years.