Volcano erupts in southern Japan, spewing ash high into sky

Japan Warns of More Eruptions from Southern Volcano

TOKYO (AP) — A volcano erupted in spectacular fashion on a small island in southern Japan on Friday, spewing out rocks and sending black clouds of ash 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) into the sky. Authorities told people on the island to evacuate.

One person was reported to have suffered minor burns from falling debris after Mount Shindake erupted, sending dense flows of rock and hot gases seaward, the Japan Meteorological Agency reported.

The injured man, another person who was feeling unwell and a third person were airlifted to nearby Yakushima island, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said.

Another 133 people were evacuated on a coast guard vessel, a ferry and fishing boats.

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Volcano erupts in southern Japan, spewing ash high into sky
A column of smoke raises from Mount Shindake on Kuchinoerabu island, southern Japan, Friday, May 29, 2015. Thevolcano is erupting on the small island, and authorities have ordered residents to evacuate the island. Mount Shindake erupted in spectacular fashion Friday, spewing towering black-gray clouds into the sky. No injuries have been reported, although the Japan Meteorological Agency reports that pyroclastic flows from the volcano have reached the shore to the northwest. (Kyodo News via AP)
A column of smoke raises from Mount Shindake on Kuchinoerabu island, southern Japan, Friday, May 29, 2015. Thevolcano is erupting on the small island, and authorities have ordered residents to evacuate the island. Mount Shindake erupted in spectacular fashion Friday, spewing towering black-gray clouds into the sky. No injuries have been reported, although the Japan Meteorological Agency reports that pyroclastic flows from the volcano have reached the shore to the northwest. (Kyodo News via AP)
In this image taken from a surveillance camera observed from Motomura Nishi on Kuchinoerabu island, a column of black smoke rises from Mount Shindake, on the island, southern Japan, Friday, May 29, 2015. The volcano erupted on the small island about 10 a.m. local time Friday, spewing black clouds of ash and rock towering into the sky and prompting authorities to tell residents to evacuate the island. (Japan Meteorological Agency via AP) 
In this image taken from a surveillance camera observed from Yakushima Nagata on Kuchinoerabu island, a column of smoke rises from Mount Shindake on the island, southern Japan, Friday, May 29, 2015. The volcano erupted on the small island about 10 a.m. local time Friday, spewing black clouds of ash and rock towering into the sky and prompting authorities to tell residents to evacuate the island. (Japan Meteorological Agency via AP)
[NHK] Japan Meteorological Agency, announced the "eruption warning" just to Kuchinoerabujima, and raised the eruption alert level to Level 5, has called for strict vigilance as we need evacuation of island residents.
Kuchinoerabu-jima volcano on southern Japanese island has erupted. Pic via @denki_minto http://t.co/EDjSKLiRtG
Evacuations ordered after volcano erupts on Japanese island http://t.co/QGpKPDCWUX
5月29日:桜島 04時30分ごろ、九州の種子島近海で2連続の地震後、 05時07分:爆発的噴火 06時20分:爆発的噴火 07時20分:爆発的噴火 1955年の観測開始以来、観測史上最速ペースの爆発的噴火。 http://t.co/NavyYXZ35f
#VNewsCD Photo: Ash cloud from Japan's Mount Shindake volcano -… http://t.co/U1yYnspscN #Foxnews #CNN #MTVStars http://t.co/d7cq0ga6eo
Watch the dramatic moment Japanese volcano Mount Shindake erupts http://t.co/GyeKmN1qzx http://t.co/c6sFq97uA5
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"There was a really loud, 'dong' sound of an explosion, and then black smoke rose, darkening the sky," Nobuaki Hayashi, a local village chief, told public broadcaster NHK as he and dozens of others gathered at a shelter before leaving the island.

The agency raised the alert level for Kuchinoerabu island, where Shindake is located, to five, the highest on its scale. Shindake also erupted in August last year for the first time since 1980.

A military helicopter was sent to survey the island and assess damage.

Kuchinoerabu is 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Japan's main southern island of Kyushu. A heavily forested, mountainous island bordered mostly by rocky cliffs, it is a national park supported mainly by tourism and fishing.

About two hours after the eruption, NHK showed the mountain shrouded in light gray ash as the clouds from the eruption cleared.

It has little effect on air travel, with no cancellations or major route changes reported.

Kuchinoerabu usually can be reached only by a once-a-day ferry from Yakushima, 12 kilometers (about 7 miles) to the east, which has an airport and a population of more than 13,000 people.

Japan, which sits along the Pacific "Ring of Fire," has dozens of volcanoes and is frequently jolted by earthquakes.

In March 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake rocked northeastern Japan, triggering a tsunami that killed more than 18,500 people and ravaged much of the northern Pacific coast.

Authorities recently closed part of a popular hot springs about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Tokyo because of fears of an eruption of Mount Hakone, which is southeast of Mount Fuji.

The eruption last September of another volcano, Mount Ontake in central Japan, killed 57 people.

Setsuya Nakada, a professor at Tokyo University, told NHK that the eruption on Kuchinoerabu was stronger than Mount Ontake's.

Since the 2011 disasters, "this sort of activity has continued," Nakada said, when asked if more eruptions were likely on the island. "Probably the eruptions will continue."

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AP Writer Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report.

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