Volcano on island off Tokyo erupts, forcing evacuations

TOKYO - A volcano on an island off Tokyo erupted Thursday, belching black ash into the sky and forcing the brief evacuation of hundreds of residents.

The eruption of Mount Oyama on Miyakejima island began at about 6:30 a.m., sending up a column of dark smoke and ash 9,000 feet high, meteorological officials said.

There were no reports of falling ash causing injuries or damage as of late Thursday, said municipal official Tadashi Sakuma.

It was the 2,670-foot volcano's fourth eruption in a little more than a month.

Island authorities ordered 634 residents from 315 households on the northeastern part of the island to evacuate to public community centers, Enomoto said. But the evacuation order was lifted in the afternoon, though 54 residents remained in community centers late Thursday, Sakuma said.

The two daily flights between the island and Tokyo were canceled Thursday and will remain grounded Friday, the Transport Ministry said.

Some island roads were closed because falling ash reduced visibility, said Izumi Asanuma, a municipal official.

The ash was blowing northeast away from the island, 120 miles south of Tokyo, he said.

Smoke was still coming out of the volcano late Thursday, said Hiroshi Jingu, a Meteorological Agency official.

The first signs of the recent volcanic activity on Miyakejima began June 26. There was no immediate eruption, but more than 2,000 people were ordered to evacuate. The order was lifted after a few days.

Volcanologists said an undersea eruption occurred off Miyakejima on June 27.

Mount Oyama then erupted July 8, July 14 and 15. None of the island's 4,000 residents was injured in those eruptions.

Since late June, Miyakejima and nearby islands have been jolted by tens of thousands of earthquakes, including more than 11,900 strong enough to be felt by humans.

On July 1, a man was killed by a landslide following an earthquake on the nearby island of Kozushima.


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