Kagoshima cleans up from Sakurajima blast

KAGOSHIMA - Kagoshima residents were busy cleaning up volcanic ash on Monday, a day after Mt. Sakurajima spewed ash as high as 5,000 meters to blanket the city of 600,000 people.

According to the Kagoshima Local Meteorological Observatory, the explosive eruption from the Showa vent occurred at 4:31 p.m. Ash reached a height of 5,000 meters, the highest recorded from the Showa vent since the observatory started monitoring the active volcano in 1955.

Volcanic rocks measuring 50 centimeters in diameter were observed at the Third Station of the mountain, or 1,300 to 1,800 meters from the Showa vent, the observatory said. It also confirmed a small pyroclastic flow about one kilometer long.

The observatory predicts no further major eruptions from the volcano for the time being.

The city of Kagoshima, meanwhile, mobilized about 60 ash-cleaning and water-spraying vehicles from early Monday morning.

The observatory reported about 120 grams of volcanic ash falling per square meter of ground from January to July this year. On Sunday alone, however, it recorded 13 grams of ash.

"Ash fell over a wide area in this eruption," said a Kagoshima city official. "We'll attempt to clean it up in three days."

On Oct. 7, 2000, the volcano erupted from the Minami-dake peak, sending ash more than 5,000 meters high.