The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a maximum level alert on Sunday after the eruption of the Sakurajima volcano in the southern city of Kagoshima forced dozens of area residents mountainous to evacuate.
The agency has raised the alert level for Sakurajima to Level 5, the highest level, which requires evacuations.
Before the eruption of the volcano, which took place after 8 p.m. (11 a.m. GMT) on Sunday, the alert was at level 3, which prohibits access to the mountain.
“The residential areas of the cities of Arimura and Furusato, located within a three-kilometer radius of Sakurajima crater, should be on high alert,” the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said in a statement.
The two cities have 77 residents, according to the city of Kagoshima.
TV footage showed a lava flow and ash being thrown up from the volcano.
An explosion sent huge ash about 2 .5 km from the crater, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
No immediate damage was reported, according to state broadcaster NHK.
The volcano Sakurajima, who frequently spits smoke and ash , is one of Japan's best-known tourist spots.
The country is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of earthquakes and volcanoes. In 2015, Japan issued a maximum evacuation alert when a volcano erupted on Kuchinoerabu Island, also in Kagoshima.
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