Friday, June 09, 2006

Japan suffers a volcano eruption

A volcano erupted in southern Japan on Wednesday, spewing a plume of smoke about 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) into the air, the Weather Agency said. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

Mount Sakurajima erupted at 5:30 p.m. (0830 GMT) and registered as moderate on the agency's scale for both the sound and the strength of the tremors it caused, according to a volcano bulletin.
There was no other significant change in volcanic activity, the bulletin said. "We do not believe that a large-scale eruption is imminent,'' said agency official Akira Otani.

Authorities in the area have received no immediate reports of damage or injuries, according police official Shoichi Araki in Kagoshima city, across the bay from the volcano. There has been ash falling in the city for several days, he added.

The 1,117-meter (3,686-foot) high Sakurajima is one of Japan's most active volcanoes. Clouds of ash constantly drift from its crater. It sits in Kagoshima Bay, about 950 kilometers (590 miles) southwest of Tokyo.

Sakurajima's last major eruption was in October 2000, when smoke rose about 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) into the air and blanketed Kagoshima city in dust. That eruption did not cause any injuries.

With 108 active volcanos, Japan is among the most seismically active countries in the world. The nation lies in the "Ring of Fire'' - a series of volcanoes and fault lines that outline the Pacific Ocean.

In 2000, an eruption at a volcano on Miyake Island, about 180 kilometers (110 miles) east of Tokyo, forced all 4,000 islanders to evacuate the island. About half of them returned last year after the evacuation order was lifted.

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