Adding to Japan's woes, a volcano in the southwestern portion of the country erupted on Sunday after nearly two weeks of relative silence. The eruption sent ash and rocks up to two and a half miles into the air. It was not clear if the eruption was a result of the massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake that struck the northern part of the country on Friday. The 4,689-foot Shinmoedake volcano, located in the Kirishima range, had its first major eruption in 52 years in January. There hadn't been any major activity at the site since March 1. A volcano warning has been issued at a level of three out of five, and authorities have restricted access to the entire mountain.
The Shinmoedake volcano on Japan's Kyushu island, after lying dormant for a couple of weeks, resumes activity in a blast heard miles away. It was unclear if the eruption was linked to Friday's massive earthquake in the north. The Japanese weather agency has reported that a volcano in southern Japan began spewing ash and rock even as the country struggled to recover Sunday from the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami. Japan's Meteorological Agency issued a warning Sunday that the Shinmoedake volcano resumed activity after lying dormant for a couple of weeks. The volcano is on Kyushu island, about 950 miles from the epicenter of Friday's magnitude 9.0 earthquake, which devastated much of the country's northeastern coast. It was unclear if the eruptions were linked to quake, officials said. Japan lies on the "ring of fire," a seismically active zone where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are common. The volcano last erupted Jan. 19 after remaining dormant for two years. Volcanologists had warned that a "lava dome" was growing inside the volcano's crater, although it was uncertain when or if the volcano would erupt. Sunday's eruption, which was the biggest volcanic activity in Shinmoedake in 52 years, caused widespread destruction and panic. The blast could be heard for miles, and shattered windows four miles away, the BBC reported. Hundreds of people fled the area as the volcano spewed debris, including hot ash and rocks, more than 6,000 feet in the air, according to BBC reports. - LA Times.