Fears of a volcanic eruption on Miyake Island tapered off Wednesday as experts from the Meteorological Agency said there was “no possibility” of an eruption on the eastern part of the island or at the top of Mount Oyama.
The agency’s Coordinating Committee for the Prediction of Volcanic Eruptions said seismic activity has moved off the west coast of the island and that magma activities are weakening, but that an eruption could not be ruled out for Miyake’s western coast.
“Caution still needs to be taken,” committee officials said.
More than 400 quakes per hour were recorded between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesday, but the number dropped to 289 between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., the agency said.
Farmers accompanied by local officials and police patrol cars temporarily returned to their properties in the afternoon to tend their farms and livestock, officials said.
When Tamiko Terasawa, 51, went back to her pig farm in the Tsubota district, some 200 pigs were waiting to be fed. She also found two pigs had died.
In the Ako district, which has suffered cracked roads and a landslide, Takenao Otoshi, 76, said he is helpless to save his crops of tomatoes and pumpkins.
“Now is the best time to harvest them, but I can’t do anything,” he said.
On Tuesday, the agency reported a change in the color of the sea some 1 km west of the island, leading scientists to believe underwater volcanic activity had begun.
About 2,600 residents, close to 70 percent of the island’s population, have been evacuated to safer areas on the island. In past eruptions this century of Mount Oyama, the duration of volcanic activities ranged from between 10 hours to about a month, the committee said.
The 813-meter mountain sits at the center of the 55.5-sq.-km island. When Mount Oyama last erupted in October 1983, 413 homes and other buildings were destroyed as lava gushed out of numerous craters. No one was injured because residents had been evacuated.