Volcano Lets Loose In Japan
August 18, 2000 10:15 pm EST
Thousands Evacuate From Path Of Volcano
TOKYO, AUGUST 18, 2000 (CBS News) - A newly reawakened volcano erupted Friday on a small island near Tokyo, spewing a massive column of gray-black ash five miles into the air. More than 2,000 people were ordered to evacuate their homes.
It was the largest eruption from 2,686-foot Mount Oyama, which dominates the resort island of Miyake, since the volcano ended a 17-year slumber and began stirring last month. Though no injuries or damage were reported, ash and steam rose into the sky 120 miles south of Tokyo on a day when nerves in Japan's capital were already frayed by a series of earthquakes.
Authorities on Miyake, which is home to about 4,000 people, ordered 2,162 residents to evacuate to designated shelters, including a school gymnasium, local official Yoshiko Numata said. The evacuation came just eight days after 634 people on the 22-square-mile island were forced to leave their homes temporarily following a smaller eruption.
Friday's was the fifth and most spectacular in a series of eruptions that began July 9.
"This was on a different scale," said Tadashi Sakuma, who was helping to coordinate the island's relief efforts. "There was lots of ash and some cinders too."
Japan's Meteorological Agency said rising underground magma was probably to blame. It warned that volcanic activity on Miyake may continue.
The Meteorological Agency also urged caution because heavy rain was forecast for Saturday, raising the specter of mudslides racing down the volcano's ash-covered slopes.
Miyake is one of the largest of the Izu islands, a chain of volcanic islands off Tokyo that stretch 335 miles from north to south. Seismic activity has been intensifying in the area this week, and an observatory on Miyake had recorded almost 600 tremors since Friday afternoon, when Mount Oyama came to life.
Ash from the eruption
spewed some five miles
into the air.