Volcano erupts in southern Japan

March 14, 2011 at 3:28 AM

TOKYO, March 14 (UPI) -- A volcano belched in south Japan but it wasn't clear if its volatility was linked to the destructive quake and tsunami that decimated the northeast.

Japan's weather agency reported the Shinmoedake volcano in far southern Kyushu island, calm the past two weeks, resumed activity Sunday with a loud blast, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The volcano's crater was firing off ash and rock thousands of feet into the air, while the country deals with the horrific carnage the quake-tsunami inflicted on the northeast, where tens of thousands of people are dead or missing, and the economic fallout that threatens financial pain, as well.

The Times report said the volcano is about 950 miles from the epicenter of Friday's magnitude-9.0 earthquake.

While it was not clear if the ash-rock display resulted from the temblor, the report reminded Japan lies on the "ring of fire," a seismically active zone where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are common.

The volcano had been mostly dormant for two years except for a brief eruption on Jan. 19 and experts at the time had warned of a "lava dome" taking shape inside the crater.

Sunday's activity was described as the most violent in 52 years and did its share in causing hundreds to flee and shattering windows four miles away, the BBC reported.

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