Sakurajima volcano erupts in southern Japan

TOKYO - A well-known volcano erupted Friday evening in southern Japan with a fiery blast that sent lava rolling down its slope.

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Japan's Meteorological Agency said Sakurajima on the island of Kyushu erupted at around 7 p.m. (1000 GMT).

Japanese television showed an orange burst out of the side of the volcano, near the summit, accompanied by lightning-like flashes. Dark grey smoke billowed into the sky.

The Meteorological Agency banned entry to the area, expanding an existing no-go zone around the crater to a 2-kilometre radius, according to public broadcaster NHK. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Friday's eruption, while dramatic, was average compared to Sakurajima's past eruptions, Kyoto University volcanologist Kazuhiro Ishihara told NHK. The mountain's last major eruption was in September.

The Japanese archipelago sits atop the Pacific "Ring of fire" and has more than 100 volcanoes. The 2014 eruption of Mount Ontake in central Japan killed 57 people.


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