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A minor volcanic eruption occurred Tuesday morning on Miyake Island, just as some of the island’s evacuated residents were in the midst of a brief return visit, the Meteorological Agency said.

Smoke and ash billowed to a height of some 300 meters in the 10:02 a.m. eruption, but the activity subsided a few minutes later, according to the agency. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

Serious eruptions caused the evacuation of the approximately 3,850 residents of Miyake Island in September 2000. Now only emergency workers are stationed there.

Earlier Tuesday, about 200 of the residents returned to the island about four hours before the eruption to repair their homes and collect belongings. One of the residents, Miyuki Komuro, 45, was returning to the Tsubota district of Miyake village in the eastern area of the island.

Komuro, who also returned in September, said, “I feel reluctant to tidy the place because it will become a mess again so quickly because of rats.”

This month, authorities began allowing three people per household instead of one to return, and are allowing them to gather an unlimited number of belongings.

The frequency of the return visits is also being stepped up, with 24 group visits expected to have been completed by December. So far, about 1,800 households have visited the island on three occasions.

The agency said Tuesday’s eruption does not signal a big increase in activity, because it has not observed any abnormal crustal movements or volcanic earthquakes.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been six minor eruptions, the latest of which took place Sunday morning, the agency said.

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