Mount Io goes silent after first eruption in 250 years

AFP-JIJI, Kyodo

After spewing its first plume of ash in 250 years, Mount Io stopped erupting on Friday, though the Meteorological Agency said the surrounding area remained in danger.

“There is a possibility the volcano will become more active,” said Meteorological Agency official Makoto Saito, confirming Thursday’s eruption.

In a televised news conference, Saito warned residents in the area to stay away from the volcano, part of the Mount Kirishima group of volcanoes straddling Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures, as major ash deposits spread from the crater. It was Mount Io’s first eruption since 1768, the agency said.

The agency warned that the volcano could send large rocks crashing into areas as far as 3 km from the 1,317-meter-high crater.

When Mount Io erupted around 3:40 p.m. it sent an ash plume about 300 meters into the sky, the agency said. Footage captured by the agency and local media showed thick gray and white smoke rising from several areas of the mountain. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the central government was “taking all possible measures” to prevent damage and casualties.

The eruption occurred a few kilometers away from Mount Shinmoe, the volcano featured in the classic 1967 James Bond film “You Only Live Twice.” Mount Shinmoe erupted in March. In January, a Japanese soldier was killed and several other people injured after Mount Moto-Shirane, the volcano near a popular ski resort in Gunma Prefecture, erupted without warning.