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Meteorological Agency to alert hikers after volcanic eruptions

Kyodo

The Meteorological Agency has launched a system to immediately inform local residents and hikers of an eruption at any of the country’s 47 monitored volcanoes.

Residents and climbers are to receive prompt notice of which volcano has erupted and when. The notification will come via email or smartphone alerts after the information is issued by the Meteorological Agency and carried by Yahoo Japan Corp. and Japan Meteorological Corp.

The system was launched Tuesday in line with a proposal by a government panel on volcanic eruption predictions following the eruption of Mount Ontake in central Japan last September that left 63 hikers dead or unaccounted for.

The panel said early reports would help people to evacuate the area more quickly after an eruption.

Such eruption notices will also be provided on the agency’s website as well as on TV and radio broadcasts.

In the event of a major eruption or one following a period of inactivity at any of the volcanoes, the agency plans to send out a notice within five minutes.

The 47 volcanoes across Japan that are monitored 24 hours a day include Mount Ontake, Mount Fuji, Mount Hakone and Mount Asama.

The agency will issue the notices after officials have determined an eruption has occurred, based on data collected at the volcano, including images taken by cameras and readings of instruments such as seismometers and atmospheric vibration monitors.

If low visibility from bad weather leaves the agency unable to determine whether an eruption has occurred, it may issue a “possible eruption” notice.

The agency is considering expanding the service by providing email notification to all mobile phones in a particular area and via community wireless systems.