Volcano erupts at Kuchinoerabu Island, Japan

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Tokyo: A volcano exploded into life Friday morning on lightly populated Kuchinoerabu Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, sending smoke and ash soaring into the sky. Authorities ordered residents and visitors to evacuate. In the calm morning, the eruption of the 650-meter Mt. Shindake, the main peak on the island, resulted in a plume over 9 km high and a pyroclastic flow which reached the coast, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties, according to the local town office on the adjacent island of Yakushima, a popular tourist destination.A weather agency official told a news conference that there is a risk of a second eruption and associated new pyroclastic flows. So far, he said, the pyroclastic flows had not struck the populated Maeda district.

Located about 100 km south of the southern tip of Kyushu, Kuchinoerabu has only about 100 full-time residents. Some of those believed to have been present at the time were short-term visitors. The prefectural government said 141 people in all, from 78 families, were required to evacuate. A High aler has been sonded in the island in order to meet any such natural disaster.

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