A volcano has erupted on the remote island of Kuchinoerabujima in southern Japan, Sky News reports. Plumes of black smoke were seen rising high into the sky as lava flowed down the side of Mount Sindake to reach the ocean. A coastguard vessel has been sent to evacuate the 140 residents – whose only access to the outside world is by boat – and some flights have been diverted from the island which is around 1,000km (621 miles) southwest of Tokyo.
The volcano also erupted last summer, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported, adding that the area where lava was found has been out of bounds since. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said officials would do everything to look after the islanders. “We will expend all our efforts to ensure the safety of all the residents of the island,” Mr Abe said. The island is about 160 km (100 miles) south of Kyushu Electric Power’s Sendai nuclear plant on Japan’s southernmost main island of Kyushu.
The power company was given the final go-ahead on Wednesday to restart its plant following the 2011 Fukushima disaster, but it is not clear if the volcanic eruption will affect its plans. Japan is one of the world’s most seismically active nations and there has been a rise in volcanic activity in recent weeks. More than 60 people were killed in September last year when Mount Ontake in central Japan erupted without warning while packed with hikers.