Japan's Sakurajima Volcano Explodes with Record Eruption

Mount Sakurajima erupted for the 500th time this year, generating the highest plume of ash ever recorded from the mountain since record keeping began in 1955.

The volcano, located in the far southwestern part of Japan's mainland on the island of Kyushu, began to erupt at 4:31 p.m. local time Sunday (3:31 a.m. EDT U.S. time).

The smoke plume reached a height of 5,000 meters (approximately 16,000 feet), according to the Kagoshima Local Meteorological Observatory.

Visibility in the city of Kagoshima, where the volcano sits, deteriorated quickly as ash spread into populated portions of the city of 600,000 residents, according to the English-language NHK World website.

The sky above the downtown area of the city became dark and visibility temporarily deteriorated.

Some passers-by shielded themselves from the ash with umbrellas. In addition, many drivers were forced to turn their car lights on in the darkened driving conditions.

NHK World said a pyroclastic flow, a fast-moving current of gas and rock, was observed along a one-kilometer (0.6-mile) swath on the southeast flank of the mountain.

The eruption is the latest in a string of recent natural calamities in Japan. A deadly, record-shattering heat wave has gripped Japan most of this month. Northern Japan suffered deadly landslides earlier this month and has seen additional heavy rainfall and floods in more recent days.

Sources

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2396611/Mount-Sakurajima-er...

http://www.weather.com/news/volcano-japan-sakurajima-eruption-20130818

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201308180030

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