Japan’s Shinmoedake volcano erupts for first time in 6 years, locals warned to stay away

An official for the Japanese Meteorological Agency said Mount Shinmoedake would continue to erupt and "become more active". PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (AFP) - Mount Shinmoedake in southern Japan erupted for the first time in six years Wednesday (Oct 11), shooting a plume of ash several hundred metres into the air and sparking warnings to local residents.

People were ordered to stay away from the volcano after it rumbled to life at 5.34am (4.34am Singapore) as Japan's Meteorological Agency said air blasts caused by the eruption could shatter windows.

"The ash plume reached a height of 300m when the volcano erupted," an agency official told AFP, adding that the eruption would continue and "become more active".

Ash deposits would spread as far as 2km from the crater, the agency warned.

Authorities raised its alert to level three, meaning that locals should avoid approaching the volcano. They detected 90 small tremors on Oct 5 near the mountain, which featured in the 1967 James Bond film "You Only Live Twice".

Japan, with scores of active volcanoes, sits on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire" where a large proportion of the world's earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are recorded.

On Sept 27, 2014, Japan suffered its deadliest eruption in almost 90 years when Mount Ontake, in central Nagano prefecture, burst unexpectedly to life.

An estimated 63 people were killed in the shock eruption which occurred as the peak was packed with hikers out to see the region's spectacular autumn colours.

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