Japan's Mount Io erupts, spitting out smoke and rock; no injuries

A video grab from the Japan Meteorological Agency's live camera image shows Io Yama erupting in Miyazaki prefecture, on the south-west island of Kyushu, Japan, on April 19, 2018.
A video grab from the Japan Meteorological Agency's live camera image shows Io Yama erupting in Miyazaki prefecture, on the south-west island of Kyushu, Japan, on April 19, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (REUTERS) – A volcano in Japan erupted on Thursday (April 19), shooting clouds of smoke and rocks into the sky, and prompting authorities to ban access to the peak, but there were no reports of any damage or casualties.

The eruption of Io Yama, a 1,298m-high volcano on the southernmost main island of Kyushu, was the latest in a series of eruptions in Japan this year. One person was killed in January.

Television footage showed grayish smoke jetting from several spots on the side of the mountain in the Kirishima range, in a rural area about 985km from Tokyo.

A warning level for Io Yama was raised to “3” from “2” on Japan’s 5-level scale, with the Japan Meteorological Agency warning that volcanic rocks could be hurled as far as 2km.

In January, a member of the military was killed and 11 people injured, some critically, when Kusatsu-Shirane volcano rained rocks down on skiers at a resort in central Japan.

Two months later, Shinmoedake – a volcano which featured in a 1960s James Bond movie, and in the same Kirishima range as Io Yama – shot smoke and ash thousands of metres into the sky.

Japan has 110 active volcanoes and monitors 47 of them round the clock.

In September 2014, 63 people were killed on Mount Ontake, the worst volcanic toll in Japan for nearly 90 years.