• Kyodo


A volcano in Hokkaido erupted Monday night for the first time in nearly two years, the Meteorological Agency said early Tuesday.

Mount Komagatake in southwestern Hokkaido erupted at 10:14 p.m., alarming about 60,000 residents in the town of Mori and four nearby towns, local authorities said.

There have been no reports of casualties or damage.

At around 5 a.m. Tuesday, the Sapporo District Meteorological Observatory reported seeing smoke from the volcano reaching as high as 500 meters above the volcano.

Local authorities said they have issued volcano warnings to the approximately 60,000 residents of Mori and four other towns nearby.

The observatory also reported that a seismic tremor was observed on the 1,133-meter mountain, which is about 120 km southwest of Sapporo.

At the Mori town hall, about 50 officials dealt with the latest eruption. Volcanic ash covered the roofs of cars parked in the hall’s parking lot.

“Seismic tremors appear to be limited this time compared with the last eruption in 1998,” said Shigemichi Hasegawa, the town’s deputy mayor.

Mori and four other towns set up disaster task forces shortly after midnight Monday, and the Hokkaido Prefectural Government established an ad hoc liaison office headed by Gov. Tatsuya Hori.

Mount Komagatake last erupted in October 1998.

A rather active volcano, it had a major eruption in 1640, killing more than 700 people. Another eruption in 1929 killed two people.

The eruption comes amid the increasingly violent activity of Mount Oyama on Miyake Island, some 200 km south of Tokyo. Mount Oyama’s recent eruptions have forced all nonessential island residents out of a population of 3,850 to evacuate.

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