April 19, 2018 / 7:53 AM / 5 months ago

Japanese volcano erupts, spitting out smoke and rock; no injuries

TOKYO (Reuters) - A volcano in Japan erupted on Thursday, shooting clouds of smoke and rocks into the sky, and prompting authorities to ban access to the peak, but there were no reports of any damage or casualties.

The eruption of Io Yama, a 1,298 m (4,258 ft) high volcano on the southernmost main island of Kyushu, was the latest in a series of eruptions in Japan this year. One person has been killed.

Television footage showed grayish smoke jetting from several spots on the side of the mountain in the Kirishima range, in a rural area about 985 km (616 miles) from Tokyo.

A warning level for Io Yama was raised to “3” from “2” on Japan’s 5-level scale, with the Japan Meteorological Agency warning that volcanic rocks could be hurled as far as 2 km (1.2 miles).

In January, a member of the military was killed and 11 people injured, some critically, when Kusatsu-Shirane volcano rained rocks down on skiers at a resort in central Japan.

Two months later, Shinmoedake - a volcano which featured in a 1960s James Bond movie, and in the same Kirishima range as Io Yama - shot smoke and ash thousands of metres into the sky.

Japan has 110 active volcanoes and monitors 47 of them around the clock. In September 2014, 63 people were killed on Mount Ontake, the worst volcanic toll in Japan for nearly 90 years.

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Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Robert Birsel

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