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Mt. Asama appears to have had small eruption: Weather agency


Tokyo: Mt. Asama, a volcano about 140 kilometers northwest of Tokyo and surrounded by major tourist spots, appears to have had a small eruption today morning, the Japanese weather agency has said.

A small amount of ash was confirmed to have fallen about 4 km north of the mountain straddling Nagano and Gunma prefectures around 9:30 AM, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, warning that rocks could fall within 2 km of the crater.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that the government “will do our upmost to deal with the situation.”

The eruption came a week after the agency raised the alert for the 2,568-meter volcano from level 1, warning that it is potentially active, to 2, advising against approaching the crater, Kyodo news agency reported.

Volcanic tremors since late April and a surge in sulfur dioxide emissions is being cited as the cause for the same.

Major Japanese airlines — Japan Airlines Co. and All Nippon Airways Co. — both said the eruption has had no impact on their flight routes. It is unknown whether the volcano spouted a plume due to low visibility, according to the agency.

Surrounded by major tourist spots, Mt. Asama last erupted on May 27, 2009. When it had a minor eruption in February that year, ash showers reached as far as Tokyo.

The latest eruption follows recent volcanic activity nationwide including an eruption on Kuchinoerabu Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, on May 29, and an eruption last September of Mt. Ontake in central Japan that killed 57 people and left six others missing.

Mt. Asama also had a minor eruption in August 2008. Medium-scale eruptions in September and November 2004 caused damage to local crops.

A major eruption in 1783 killed more than 1,000 people and destroyed over 1,000 houses. More recently, 398 eruptions were observed through 1941 and 287 in 1954.

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