Monday, February 20, 2006

Small volcanic eruption detected on Japanese island

A volcano on Miyake Island had a minor eruption, the Meteorological Agency said Saturday, warning residents of volcanic gases and possible mudslides.

The eruption of the volcano, which dominates Miyake Island, about 180 kilometers east of Tokyo, was the first since last May, the agency said.

It said volcanic activity temporarily increased late Friday, triggering a minor temblor and releasing a small amount of ash. But the latest development does not pose an immediate danger to residents, it said.

The volcano's eruption in July 2000 forced all 4,000 islanders to evacuate the island. More than half of them returned a year ago after the evacuation order was lifted.

But the volcano continues to belch smoke and poisonous gas that officials say pose a potentially serious risk to residents.

Japan, which has 108 active volcanos, is among the most seismically active countries in the world.

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