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Violent eruption continues on Mt. Shinmoe; weather agency calls for caution

The powerful eruption of Mount Shinmoe, which straddles Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures, is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter on March 6, 2018. (Mainichi)

A violent eruption continued on Mount Shinmoe in southern Kyushu on the morning of March 7, with the weather agency calling on people to beware of large pieces of falling debris within a 3-kilometer radius of the volcanic vent.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, violent eruptions were observed 18 times on March 6 on the mountain straddling Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures, and 11 times by 9 a.m. the following day. At around midnight of March 6, the volcano hurled rocks measuring at least 50 centimeters across as far as some 900 meters from the vent. About six hours later, the volcanic plume reached a height of about 3,000 meters. Officials have confirmed lava at the vent.

The volcanic alert level for the 1,421-meter Mount Shinmoe remains at 3 -- restricted entry to the mountain. The weather agency is calling for people to exercise caution around the volcano as large chunks of debris could fall within a 3-kilometer radius of the vent, while pyroclastic flows could reach as far as 2 kilometers.

In addition, small chunks of volcanic debris could fall in areas on the mountain's leeward side, possibly causing slippery road conditions. A weather agency official says local residents need to be careful driving and take precautions against tiny bits of volcanic debris from the eruption.

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