Friday, June 16, 2006

Japan could see more volcano eruptions!

Japanese vulcanologists have warned of more eruptions at a volcano on the southern island of Kyushu, as volcanic activity has been intensifying at one of its craters.

The Meteorological Agency has issued a bulletin warning of a high possibility of eruptions at the Showa vent, one of the craters on Sakurajima on the southern tip of Japan's southern island of Kyushu, about 1,000 km (600 miles) southwest of Tokyo.

The agency upgraded the 1,000 meter (3,200 foot) high volcano at Sakurajima to level three, or "active", from two, or "relatively moderate", on its volcanic activity scale of six.

The Showa crater had a minor eruption on Wednesday, spewing smoke hundreds of meters (yards) into the air.

There was a separate eruption at the Minamidake peak on Sakurajima on Monday, spouting a column of smoke about 2,000 meters into the air.

Minamidake has frequently erupted, showering nearby fields with ash.

The agency last issued a similar bulletin for the active volcano in October 2000.

Sakurajima was a 77 square-kilometer (30 square-mile) island until a violent eruption in 1914 filled in the strait separating it from Kyushu.

Japan's biggest volcanic disaster on record was in 1792 when 15,000 people died from a mud slide and tidal wave that engulfed villages around Mount Unzen, also in Kyushu.

Two other eruptions in the late 18th century each killed more than 1,000 people. The biggest loss of life this century was in 1926 when Mount Tokachi erupted on northern Hokkaido island, killing 144 people.

In June 1991, a major eruption on Mount Unzen killed about 40 people.

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