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A volcano on Sakurajima in southwestern Japan erupted early Sunday, sending a column of smoke over 2.3 kilometers into the air, the weather agency said.

Following the eruption at 1:09 a.m., the Meteorological Agency issued an alert, urging people in the cities of Kagoshima and Tarumizu in Kagoshima Prefecture to protect themselves from any potential impact. There were no reports of injuries or property damage following the eruption, local authorities said.

Although pyroclastic flows were confirmed within 1.8 km of the Minamidake crater, the agency said the likelihood of death or injury is low since people have been prohibited from approaching areas within 2 km of the crater since February 2016.

The agency is maintaining its alert for the volcano at level 3 on a 5-point scale, warning the public not to go near the crater and urging caution against falling rocks and stones and pyroclastic flows beyond the 2-km radius.

The agency later expanded the no-entry zone to a 2.4-km radius from the Minamidake crater. The nearest residential area is about 2.5 km away.

Sakurajima, an area that has one of the most active volcanoes in Japan, is connected to the Osumi Peninsula on Kyushu, the country's southwestern main island.

A large eruption in 1914 emitted enough lava to close the strait between the Sakurajima volcanic island in Kagoshima Bay and the Osumi Peninsula.

An eruption on Sakurajima as seen from Tarumizu, Kagoshima Prefecture on Sunday morning  | KYODO
An eruption on Sakurajima as seen from Tarumizu, Kagoshima Prefecture on Sunday morning | KYODO

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