Japan's Sakurajima volcano, not far from nuclear plant, erupts

Japan's Sakurajima volcano erupted on Friday, sending lava and ash into the night sky.
Japan's Sakurajima volcano erupted on Friday, sending lava and ash into the night sky.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (REUTERS) - A Japanese volcano about 50 km from a nuclear plant erupted on Friday (Feb 5), shooting ash nearly 2km into the night sky along with fountains of lava, but there was no immediate report of damage and operations at the power station were not affected.

Following what they termed an "explosive eruption," Japan's Meteorological Agency raised the warning level on the peak, which experiences hundreds of small eruptions a year, to 3, meaning that people should not approach the mountain. "It appears that stones have been thrown about 2km from the crater, but this area is quite far from any communities," Kazuhiro Ishihara, an emeritus professor at Kyoto University, told NHK national television.

Television footage showed red streams of lava bursting from the side of the mountain, but Prof Ishihara said he thought the impact of the eruption would not be that serious.

The Sendai nuclear power staion, run by Kyushu Electric Power and located on the same island, resumed operations last year after being shut down, along with all of Japan's nuclear plants, after a 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

A spokesman for Kyushu Electric said there was no impact from the eruption on the plant and its operations, and it was not taking any special precautions.

Japan lies on the "Ring of Fire" - a seismically active horsehoe-shaped band of fault lines and volcanoes around the edges of the Pacific Ocean - and has more than 100 active volcanoes.