TOKYO — Dozens of people are urged to evacuate their homes after a fiery volcanic eruption in southern Japan, as the national weather agency issued its top-level alert for the mountain.
Television footage showed lava and dark plumes of ash exploding from Sakurajima in Kagoshima, which erupted just after 8 p.m. local.
The volcano frequently spits out smoke and ash, and is a major tourist attraction.
The blast propelled large cinders about 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) from the crater, the Japan Meteorological Agency says in a statement.
The agency raised its alert for Sakurajima to level five, the top level, which urges evacuations. Before the eruption, it was at level three, which bans entry to the mountain.
JUST IN ???? Japanese authorities raise eruption alert level to the highest after #Sakurajima volcano in the west of country erupts
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“Residential areas of Arimura town and Furusato town within three kilometers of the summit crater… of Sakurajima should be on high alert,” the JMA says.
According to Kagoshima City, there are 77 residents in the two towns.
There were no immediate reports of damage, according to public broadcaster NHK.