Mount Sakurajima eruption sends ash plume up 5,000 meters; lava flows

Kyodo, AP

The Sakurajima volcano in Kagoshima Prefecture had a major eruption Sunday afternoon, spewing volcanic ash 5,000 meters into the sky, the Meteorological Agency said.

The 1,117-meter volcano near the city of Kagoshima erupted at 4:31 p.m., throwing out large rocks over a distance of about 1,800 meters. Lava flows of about 1 km were also seen.

Massive amounts of ash fell on the city of Kagoshima, prompting railways to temporarily halt train operations to remove ash from tracks. There were no reports of injuries.

The plume was the highest from the volcano’s Showa vent since it became active again in June 2006, when the agency began taking records for the vent, and is equal to the plume that spewed from the Minamidake vent in October 2000. The eruption was the volcano’s 500th this year.

The weather agency said it sees no signs of a larger eruption, but further eruptions of the same scale may occur.

People in the city of Kagoshima wore raincoats and used umbrellas to shield themselves from the ash after the eruption. Local media said drivers had to turn on their headlights and reported the ash resembled driving through snow at night.