Sakurajima Volcano eruption in Japan creates spectacular show of lava, lightning

By @vitthernandez on
Sakurajima Volcano Eruption
Volcanic lightning is seen at an eruption of Mount Sakurajima, in this photo taken from Tarumizu city, Kagoshima prefecture, southwestern Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo February 5, 2016. Reuters/Kyodo

Sakurajima Volcano in Japan’s Kagoshima Prefecture erupted on Friday evening, creating a spectacular sky show of lava and lightning. Although there were no reported injuries, the Meteorological Service of Japan cordoned off the place and expanded an existing no-entry 2-kilometre radius zone.

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With officials’ upgrade of the volcanic alert to level 3 from 2, Sakurajima Volcano, located on the southern island of Kyushu, is off-limits, reports Gizmodo. It is the volcano’s second eruption in three year, however, Friday’s eruption was weaker but still spewed ash and smoke. It was not as high as it was during the September 2013 eruption when the smoke plume rose three miles high, while lava flow was approximately half a mile from the fissure. During Friday’s eruption, smoke and ash rose only two kilometres into the air.

During its 2013 eruption, residents of the prefecture had to wear masks and raincoats and use an umbrella as shield from the ash. Even during daytime, drivers had to turn on their headlights because driving in the city was like driving through snow at night, according to The Guardian. Rail service was also halted to remove the ash from the tracks.

The smoke billowing out from the crater of smoke and rocks from the crater could be seen in the video of the eruption, including lava oozing down Sakurajima’s slopes. However, rocks flew only about one mile from the mountain top, so residents in Kagoshima need not worry, says Kazuhiro Ishihara, volcanologist from Kyoto University.

Sakurajima is an active volcano, and since Japan is on the Pacific Ring of Fire, the country has frequent seismic activities from its more than 100 volcanoes. In 2014, when Mount Ontake in central Japan erupted, 57 people died.

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