Japan’s largest volcano, Mount Aso, located in the country’s southernmost main island of Kyushu, has erupted, sending massive plumes of smoke into the sky. According to Japan’s Meteorological Agency, Mount Aso is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, but it is also known for being a popular hiking spot among tourists. Fortunately, however, only a handful of people were near the volcano when it erupted, allowing officials to evacuate the island efficiently and without much trouble.
The eruption sent a plethora of black smoke and ash as high as two miles into the clear sky, creating a spectacle which was as frightening as it was beautiful. Beginning at 8:49 p.m. EDT, or 9:49 a.m. GMT, the eruption lasted for less than an hour, but the massive amount of smoke and ash emitted into the sky and nearby areas brought the Japanese authorities on their heels, as the fully functional Sendai nuclear plant lies only 100 miles from Mount Aso.
Japan is still coping with the effects of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, which took place at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011, after the island country was savaged by one of the most powerful Tsunamis of recent times.
In the wake of the volcano eruption, Japanese officials have issued their third-highest alert and cancelled more than a dozen flights, but there have been no immediate reports of damage or injuries, according to the Guardian.
AccuWeather meteorologist Adam Douty has warned that areas lying to the southwest of the volcano are prone to the after-effects of the eruption.
“High pressure over the Sea of Japan will keep a northeast flow across the area through Thursday. Areas that could see falling ash would be to the southwest of the volcano.”
Japan is home to more than 100 active volcanoes — among the highest in the world — and lies on the “Ring of Fire,” which is a horseshoe-shaped band of fault lines and volcanoes around the edges of the Pacific Ocean.
Sixty-three people were killed when Mount Ontake in central Japan erupted suddenly last year, becoming the worst volcanic disaster for almost 90 years. Kyushu, the island where Mount Aso is located, was also evacuated earlier this year when a minor volcano had erupted in the area.
You can watch the eruption of Japan’s volcano below.
[Photo via Creative Commons]