A volcano erupted on a small island in southern Japan on Thursday, the country’s meteorological agency said, spewing ash and smoke into the air over the sparsely-inhabited area.
Public broadcaster NHK said there were no reports of injuries or damage yet from the eruption of the volcano on Kuchinoerabu island in the far south of Japan.
The agency said the eruption occurred at 9:19am local time (0019GMT), shortly after it issued a new warning.
“There have been eruptions there since last year but we sent an alert out (this morning) for this latest eruption as it will have a wider impact,” said Jun Fujimatsu, an official at the meteorological agency’s volcanic activity division.
“We have maintained a level three warning, which means a ban on entering the volcano area,” he told AFP.
“There are several craters at the volcano… The danger zone is two kilometres (1.2 miles) from the Shindake crater,” he added.
“We do not think the latest eruption would engulf the entire island.”
Images broadcast by NHK showed large plumes of ash and grey smoke billowing into the air above the island, which has regularly been affected by eruptions.
In 2015, the island’s 140 inhabitants at the time were all evacuated after a violent eruption that sent black clouds up as high as 9,000 metres (29,500 feet) and produced a five minute volcanic quake.
It was not immediately clear if residents of the island were evacuating on Thursday. Local authorities were not immediately available to comment.
The volcano has at times prompted the agency to lift its warnings to its highest level of five, but there was no immediate indication it planned to raise the level after the morning eruption.
Japan, with scores of active volcanoes, sits on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire” where a large proportion of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are recorded.