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Volcanic activity seemingly slowing down

August 16, 2015

Sakurajima volcanic activity eases somewhat




JIJI, Kyodo

Volcanic activities that intensified Saturday morning at Mount Sakurajima in Kagoshima Prefecture, apparently slowed somewhat late the same day, the Meteorological Agency said Sunday. But the agency remained alert for signs of a major eruption.

The tectonic movements indicating swelling of the mountain also slowed, the agency said. It believes the rise of magma from an underground chamber has subsided for now.

But Takeshi Koizumi, senior coordinator for volcanic disaster mitigation at the agency, said: “We need to remain alert because it is not known when magma will start to rise again and when a major eruption will occur as a result.”

At a meeting on Sunday, officials of relevant government agencies agreed on a policy to enhance the monitoring of Sakurajima, to provide accurate information and to offer support to evacuees.

Eriko Yamatani, minister for disaster prevention and reduction, called on the public to act calmly.

In a video conference linking national officials with Kagoshima Prefecture officials, Kagoshima Gov. Yuichiro Ito warned additional evacuation and protective measures may become necessary if the situation worsens.

Masato Iguchi, a professor at Kyoto University’s Disaster Prevention Research Institute who monitors Mount Sakurajima, said volcanic activities need close monitoring for at least the next two weeks.

On Saturday, residents near Sakurajima evacuated to safer places after the government raised its alert level to 4 on a 5-point scale, indicating a major eruption could be imminent.

Level 4 is the highest ever for Sakurajima — which is located just 4 km away from the center of the major port city of Kagoshima — since the current volcanic alert system was launched in 2007.

Evacuees moved to evacuation centers set up by the city government or to other places including relatives’ homes.

Residents carrying luggage were seen at the centers after the evacuation advisory was issued.

“I’m concerned an eruption would damage my home,” said Yoshiko Ikeda, 87.

“I have lived in Sakurajima for more than 50 years but have not imagined we would have to evacuate,” said Emiko Miyashita, 80.

The city government displayed the alert in Japanese and English on digital boards at the ferry landing as foreigners in the ar

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