Japan's Mount Aso volcano erupts, spewing plumes of ash

PHOTO: Twitter/Ninja250_nbyk

A volcano erupted in Japan on Wednesday (Oct 20), blasting ash several kilometres into the sky and prompting officials to warn against the threat of lava flows and falling rocks, but there were no reports of injuries or casualties.

Mount Aso, a tourist destination on the main southern island of Kyushu, sent plumes of ash 3.5km (2.2 miles) high when it erupted at about 11.43am, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

It raised the alert level for the volcano to three on a scale of five, telling people not to approach, and warned of a risk of large falling rocks and pyroclastic flows within a radius of about 1km around the mountain’s Nakadake crater.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters that there were no reports of casualties.

Local police said there were no reports of people injured or missing as of Wednesday evening, and that 16 people who had gone hiking on the mountain earlier on the day came back safely.

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Television networks broadcast images of a dark cloud of ash looming over the volcano that swiftly obscured large swathes of the mountain.

Ash falls from the 1,592-metre (5,222-foot) mountain in the prefecture of Kumamoto are expected to shower nearby towns, the weather agency added.

Mount Aso had a small eruption in 2019.

Japan’s worst volcanic disaster in nearly 90 years killed 63 people on Mount Ontake in September 2014.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.