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Japan’s Sakurajima volcano erupts, prompts alert

Japan's Sakurajima volcano: Volcano erupting in the dark, with red glow visible under huge cloud of black smoke.
Japan’s Sakurajima volcano erupted not far from the city of Kagoshima, shortly after sunset local time. At this writing, it is still dark there. Image via Reuters.

Japan’s Sakurajima volcano erupts

The Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) reported an eruption of Sakurajima volcano today (July 24, 2022), on Japan’s major western island of Kyushu. The eruption began at about 8:05 p.m. local time (11:05 UTC; 6:05 a.m. CDT on Sunday, July 24). JMA said the volcano was “blowing off large rocks” as far as 1.5 miles (2.5 km) away, in the southern prefecture of Kagoshima. And JMA said that the alert level for the volcano had been raised to 5, the highest level.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. And authorities said they did not expect a major eruption.

But JMA’s alert level of 5 comes with a recommendation for evacuation. According to Reuters, most of the nearby city of Kagoshima, whose estimated population is about 600,000, is across the bay from the volcano. But the Japanese government did order several residential areas within about 1.9 miles (3 km) of the crater to evacuate. Reuters said the evacuation included about 51 people in the vicinity.

Reuters also explained that Sakurajima is one of Japan’s most active volcanoes and that eruptions of varying levels take place on a regular basis.

An eruption of this volcano in 2019 sent ash 3.4 miles (5.5 km) high.

An eruption of Sakurajima on January 11, 1914, was the most powerful in 20th century Japan.

The volcano was once an island

Map of Japan with a labeled red triangle at lower left showing location of volcano.
Sakurajima volcano is on Japan’s major western island of Kyushu, in the southern prefecture of Kagoshima, by the seaside city of the same name. Image via Wikipedia.
Hand-drawn map showing Sakurajima as a volcanic island.
A 1909 map of Sakurajima by the Imperial Japanese Land Survey, based on survey data taken in 1902. The map shows Sakurajima as an island. Following the 1914 eruption, a a land bridge connected the volcanic island to Osumi Peninsula. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

An image from the 1914 eruption

Old photo of large, old-style Japanese city covered in ash, with volcano visible in the distance.
The seaside city of Kagoshima – covered deep in ash – after the 1914 eruption of Sakurajima volcano, which is seen in the distance across the bay. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Bottom line: Japan’s Sakurajima volcano erupted at about 8:05 p.m. local time today (11:05 UTC; 6:05 a.m. CDT on Sunday, July 24, 2022). So far, 51 people have evacuated.

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