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Small-scale eruption at Mt. Aso in Kumamoto not related to quakes: volcanologist

Smoke billows from Mount Aso in the village of Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, in this picture taken from a Mainichi Shimbun aircraft on the morning of April 16, 2016. (Mainichi)

There was a small-scale eruption at Mount Aso, an active volcano in Kumamoto Prefecture, at around 8:30 a.m. on April 16, with smoke billowing into the sky approximately 100 meters from the No. 1 crater of the volcano's Nakadake peak, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) announced. The agency is keeping its volcanic alert for Mount Aso at Level 2, warning people against approaching the crater.

The JMA's Volcanological Division maintains that there is no data showing a clear link between the magnitude-7.3 earthquake the struck Kumamoto Prefecture in the small hours of April 16 and volcanic activity at Mount Aso.

Volcanologist Kazuhiro Ishihara, professor emeritus at Kyoto University and the deputy chairman of the JMA's Coordinating Committee for Prediction of Volcanic Eruptions, said, "There had been eruptive activity at Mount Aso since before the earthquakes, and the data on volcanic tremors don't show any factors that would contribute to their becoming more intensified. For now, we believe that the earthquakes and the volcanic eruption just happened to take place at around the same time in the same area."

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