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The Meteorological Agency said Friday that there was a volcanic eruption on Kuchinoerabu Island in Kogashima Prefecture at 9:59 a.m.
The agency raised the alert level to 5, in which islanders need to evacuate, from 3, where people are restricted from entering the mountain.
Pyroclastic flows have reached the ocean, the agency said.
Kagoshima Prefecture meanwhile ordered all of the island’s roughly 30 inhabitants to evacuae.
The prime minister’s office also set up a task force.
The island is located about 100 km south of the southern tip of Kagoshima Prefecture.
May 29 (Reuters) - A volcano on the remote southern Japanese island of Kuchinoerabujima erupted suddenly on Friday, blasting plumes of black smoke high into the sky, prompting authorities to order the evacuation of the island's residents and forcing airlines to divert some flights.
It was not immediately clear if the eruption would affect the restart of Kyushu Electric Power's Sendai nuclear plant, which on Wednesday cleared the last step of the nuclear regulator's stringent safety hurdles introduced after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in 2011. [ID: nL3N0YI1Q4]
The company said an internal analysis showed the erupting volcano posed no risk to the Sendai plant on Kyushu island.
Japan is one of the world's most seismically active nations and there has been an upsurge in volcanic activity in recent weeks, with increasing volumes of steam blasting from a resort area not far from Tokyo and activity levels rising at a volcano in central Japan.