Tourists were peering into the crater of active volcano Mount Aso, on Japan’s Kyushu island, when it erupted Sunday. Miraculously, no one was hurt.
The Japan Times reported that 30 tourists were near Mount Aso’s crater when it unexpectedly exploded, shooting black smoke, ash, and rocks across the area. About 100 visitors total were near Mount Aso at the time.
Everyone was safely evacuated, NBC News added. Now, people are being warned to stay away, as a second eruption may be coming.
Mount Aso erupted suddenly Sunday morning, much to the surprise of people nearby. A plume of black smoke shot over a mile into the air and could be seen 2.5 miles away from the site, Reuters added.
One of the most active volcanoes in Japan, but also a popular hiking spot, Mount Aso is 5,222 feet high. It has five peaks. Tourists can access the crater, which constantly emits smoke. In 1958, a rope way was erected here — the world’s first over an active volcano.
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But for now, Mount Aso is off limits. The country’s senior volcanic affairs coordinator, Sadayuki Kitagawa, said a second eruption may follow the first, and volcanic rocks may spew across a radius of about six-tenths of a mile. Flying rocks and ash may cover an area much larger than that, so people have been warned to watch out.
This eruption follows another last April, when it chugged smoke 5,000 feet into the sky. In August, authorities enacted a new warning system that would ensure local residents and tourists could evacuate the area immediately in the event of another eruption.
Mount Aso has been threatening to explode since last year. Last month, seismic activity increased near a volcano south of the peak. This caused local authorities to raise the alert at the end of last month, warning people not to approach the central crater, Japan Times added.
Though no one has been hurt, the explosion has disrupted flights. Departures and arrivals at a nearby airport are off-schedule, and flights have been canceled, with more to follow. A nuclear plant about 100 miles away is also a concern, but apparently won’t be affected.
Mount Aso’s past explosions have been much deadlier. In 1953, six tourists were killed and 90 others hurt when it erupted. Just last year, Ontake blew its top and killed 63 people. And in May, people on a remote island where evacuated after another eruption.
[Photo Courtesy YouTube Screengrab]