Japan’s Prime Minister has ordered officials to take action to save lives after a volcano erupted on the country’s major western island of Kyushu.
Evacuations have begun, with the eruption alert level being raised to the country’s highest level of 5.
There were reports of stones being spewed out of Sakurajima volcano and coming down to earth 2.5 km (1.5 miles) away, NHK public television said.
The volcano is one of Japan’s most active and eruptions of varying levels take place on a regular basis. In 2019, Sakurajima spewed ash 5.5 km (3.4 miles) high.
Video footage from Sunday’s eruption showed what appeared to be a red mass flowing down one side of the volcano, with red projectiles shooting out while smoke, hard to see in the darkness, billowed up.
The eruption happened at around 8.05 pm (12.05 British time) on Sunday, the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.
There have been no immediate reports of damage.
Most of the city of Kagoshima is across the bay from the volcano but several residential areas are within about 3 km (1.9 miles) of the crater – and NHK said they may be ordered to evacuate.
Officials at Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s office are said to be gathering information about the situation.
More to follow.
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