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Sakurajima volcano erupts, triggering highest alert

Baku, July 25, AZERTAC

Sakurajima volcano in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, erupted on Sunday evening, spewing ash and stones and triggering an evacuation order, according to NHK World-Japan.

Officials are keeping a close watch on one of the country's most active volcanoes.

The meteorological agency does not expect another major eruption. But it has raised its alert to the highest level of 5. It is the first time that level 5 has been issued at the volcano since the system was introduced in 2007.

The eruption expelled large volcanic rocks as far as 2.5 kilometers away. There were no reports of damage or injuries. But officials issued an evacuation order to dozens of residents of two nearby towns.

An official at the meteorological agency, Nakatsuji Tsuyoshi, said, "Volcanic activities of Sakurajima are becoming intense. People in residential areas should be on the highest alert for large volcanic rocks falling nearby."

Officials are warning that large rocks could fall in areas within 3 kilometers of the volcano's craters. They have also advised residents living within 2 kilometers about the potential for pyroclastic flows.

People in those areas have evacuated. A woman said, "I didn't hear the eruption myself. I found out about it online. It's a bit scary."

One of the volcano's largest eruptions happened in 1914, killing 58 people.

Officials said rain was expected in the area on Monday, but they did not expect it to cause mudslides.

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