January 31, 2011 in Nation/World

Japanese flee erupting volcano

Eric Talmadge Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Volcanic ash rises from Shinmoedake on Japan’s island of Kyushu on Sunday.
(Full-size photo)

TOKYO – Officials urged more than 1,000 residents to seek safer ground today and expanded a no-access zone around a volcano that has exploded back to life in southern Japan.

The 4,662-foot Shinmoedake volcano erupted last week for the first time in 52 years. The volcano is located in a remote part of the Kirishima range on the southern Japan island of Kyushu. No injuries have been reported.

Today, five days after it burst back to life, the volcano was still spewing a spectacular plume into the air, sending a blanket of ash out over a wide area.

Officials in the town of Takaharu urged about 1,100 residents to go to evacuation centers because of the danger of debris, ash and landslides. The warning was not mandatory, however, and some residents were returning to their homes instead.

The Meteorological Agency, meanwhile, broadened a no-access danger zone to two miles from the peak and was planning to send in helicopters to monitor activity near the crater.

Small rocks ejected from the eruptions have broken windows in buildings and cars. The eruption has also disrupted train service, closed schools and forced some domestic flight cancellations.

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