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Volcanic eruption coats Japanese city with ash

Last Updated: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 13:57

Tokyo: Residents in a southern Japanese city accustomed to frequent eruptions from a nearby volcano were busy washing ash off the streets on Monday after the mountain spewed a record-high smoke plume into the sky.

Ash wafted as high as 5 kilometres above the Sakurajima volcano in the southern city of Kagoshima yesterday afternoon, forming the highest plume since the Japan Meteorological Agency started keeping records in 2006.

Lava flowed about 1 kilometre from the fissure, with several huge volcanic rocks rolling down the mountainside.

Residents wore masks and raincoats and used umbrellas to shield themselves from the falling ash. Drivers turned on their headlights in the dull evening gloom, and railway service in the city was halted temporarily so ash could be removed from the tracks.

Officials said no injuries or damage have been reported.

Today morning, the air was clearer as masked residents sprinkled water and swept up the ash. The city was mobilizing garbage trucks and water sprinklers to clean up.

But business largely returned to normal in the city of 600,000 people living only 10 kilometres from the volcano whose eruptions are part of their daily life.

"The smoke was a bit dramatic, but we are kind of used to it," said a city official who requested anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to the media.

Yesterday`s eruption was the 500th this year of Sakurajima, a statement from the city said.

The Japan Meteorological Agency has not changed its guidance on the mountain beyond warning people not to venture near the volcano itself. It says there are no signs of a larger eruption but similar activity may continue.

Japan is on the "Ring of Fire," the seismic faults encircling the Pacific Ocean, and has frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity.


First Published: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 13:57

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