Japan’s Meteorological Agency Raises Eruption Alert As Volcano Forces Evacuations In 2 Towns

Dozens of people have evacuated two towns on Japan’s main southern island of Kyushu where a volcano spewed ash and large rocks into the nighttime sky.

Large rocks fell as far as 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) from the Sakurajima volcano Sunday night in the southern prefecture of Kagoshima.

Footage on Japan’s NHK public television showed orange flames flashing near the crater and dark smoke with ash billowing high above the mountaintop.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency raised the eruption alert to the highest level of five and advised 51 residents in two towns facing the volcano to leave their homes.

By Monday morning, 33 of them left their homes for a nursing care facility in a safer part of the region, according to Kagoshima city. NHK said others subject to evacuation might have evacuated to other locations.

“We will put the people’s lives first and do our utmost to assess the situation and respond to any emergency,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki told reporters. He called on residents to pay close attention to updates from local authorities to protect their lives.

A dusting of ash was visible on cars in Kagoshima, but no damage or injuries have been reported. Schools in the area are on summer recess but closed Monday.

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