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Volcanic gases and debris spewed from Mount Shindake after its eruption Friday on an island in southern Japan.
Volcanic gases and debris spewed from Mount Shindake after its eruption Friday on an island in southern Japan.Japan Coast Guard

TOKYO — A volcano erupted in spectacular fashion on a small island in southern Japan on Friday, spewing out rocks and sending black clouds of ash more than 5 miles into the sky. Authorities told people on the island to flee the area.

One person was reported to have suffered minor burns from falling debris after Mount Shindake erupted on Kuchinoerabu island, the Japan Meteorological Agency reported. The injured man, another person who was feeling unwell, and a third person were airlifted to a nearby island, Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency said. Another 133 people were evacuated on a coast guard vessel, a ferry and fishing boats.

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The eruption started as a loud explosion and then black smoke darkened the sky, Nobuaki Hayashi, a village chief, told public broadcaster NHK as he and dozens of others gathered at a shelter before leaving the island.

The agency raised the alert level for Kuchinoerabu to five, the highest on its scale. Shindake also erupted last August for the first time since 1980.

A military helicopter was sent to survey the island and assess damage.

Kuchinoerabu is about 50 miles southwest of Japan’s main southern island of Kyushu. A heavily forested, mountainous island, bordered mostly by rocky cliffs, it is in a national park and supported mainly by tourism and fishing.

Associated Press