Shinmoedake volcano spews ash in Japan, flights canceled
The 4,689-foot volcano in the Kirishima range has been belching smoke and ash into the air since late Wednesday.
Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 02:21 PM
SMOKY SKIES: In April, the eruption of the Eyjafjoell volcano in Iceland dispersed a massive cloud of ash, which triggered a massive airspace shutdown that affected more than 100,000 flights and 8 million passengers. (Photo: Scott Heppell/AP)
Train and flight services were suspended Friday after a volcano in southwest Japan saw its first major eruption for 52 years, spewing columns of smoke and ash thousands of meters into the sky.
The eruption of Shinmoedake forced the suspension of flight and train services to Miyazaki in southwestern Japan and the evacuation of homes.
Officials said 31 people in Takaharu town near the volcano were forced to spend the night at an evacuation center Thursday.
The 4,689-foot volcano in the Kirishima range between Kagoshima and Miyazaki has been belching smoke and ash into the air since late Wednesday, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
The eruption prompted All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines to cancel a number of flights to and from Miyazaki while JR Kyushu Railway Company also suspended train services in the area.
Television footage showed the volcano billowing grey smoke into the sky, while residents used shovels to clear ash from streets.
There were no reports of damage or injuries, police said.
The Kagoshima observatory raised its five-scale warning level on the volcano from two to three, restricting access to the entire mountain, officials said.
In a statement, the Japan Meteorological Agency said that the Kirishima group is made of more than 20 volcanic mountains and mounds and that a minor Shinmoedake eruption was recorded in 2008.
In April last year the eruption of the Eyjafjoell volcano in Iceland dispersed a massive cloud of ash which triggered a massive airspace shutdown that affected more than 100,000 flights and 8 million passengers.
Copyright 2011 AFP Asian Edition