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Kagoshima: Evacuate or not?

August 17, 2015

Warning continues for large-scale eruption on Sakurajima



The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has warned that there is still a high possibility that a large-scale eruption will occur on Sakurajima, a volcanic island in the city of Kagoshima where the eruption alert level has been raised.

A total of 71 volcanic earthquakes were observed on Sakurajima on Aug. 16, the day after the volcanic eruption alert level on the island was raised from 3 to 4 requiring residents to prepare to evacuate. On Aug. 17, 11 such temblors were observed by 9 a.m.

On Aug. 15 alone, there were 1,023 volcanic earthquakes, including four noticeable ones that registered at least 1 on the 7-point Japanese intensity scale, surpassing 862 volcanic temblors that occurred throughout last month, according to the JMA. Although the number of volcanic earthquakes has since declined significantly, the frequency is still far higher than several such temblors a day before the alert level was raised.

Moreover, the JMA has pointed out that crustal changes that indicate mountain swell as a result of a magma rise are still continuing, although their activities have declined since Aug. 15.

Kazuya Kokubo, JMA senior analyst for volcanic activity, has warned of a possible eruption on Sakurajima. "Although crustal changes have slowed down, underground pressure hasn't been relieved. An eruption could occur at any time.

Residents who have evacuated from areas where an evacuation advisory has been issued temporarily returned home on Aug. 16 to collect daily necessities and other items. They were allowed to stay home for up to 30 minutes.

The Kagoshima Municipal Government has recommended that 77 people in 51 households in areas three kilometers from craters of the mountain flee their neighborhoods and take shelter. Currently, 31 people from 22 households, including those in areas that are not covered by the advisory, are taking refuge at two evacuation shelters on the island.

August 17, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)


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