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Lava flow confirmed at Mt. Shinmoe following eruptions

Mount Shinmoe is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter on March 9, 2018. (Mainichi)

A flow of lava has been confirmed at Mount Shinmoe in south Kyushu, following a series of eruptions starting earlier this month, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said on March 9.

At around 10:10 a.m. on March 9, a worker from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology involved in an on-site inspection informed the JMA that lava could be seen flowing from the northwest section of the mountain's crater. The agency later confirmed a lava flow, and is investigating its range.

The JMA had announced on the same day that eruptions of the volcano, which straddles Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures, had stopped at 1:45 a.m., but it seems that lava built up inside the crater subsequently spilled over.

The agency has kept its volcanic alert at level 3 -- restricted entry to the volcano -- and people are being urged to watch out for large ash deposits within 3 kilometers of the crater, as well as pyroclastic flows across a range of 2 kilometers.

Meanwhile, the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan announced on March 9 that analysis of satellite images indicated a circular landform change within the volcano's crater had expanded in size. The geomorphic change now measures around 650 meters in diameter, up from about 550 meters on March 7. An expert has pointed out that this is a lava dome.

The first of the most recent eruptions at the volcano occurred on March 1. This was followed on March 6 by the first explosive eruptions in seven years. In total, there were 34 explosive eruptions up until March 7.

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