Japan's volcanic Mt. Aso erupts

A thick covering of ash descended on nearby cities.
By Ed Adamczyk Contact the Author   |   Nov. 28, 2014 at 10:39 AM

KUMAMOTO , Japan, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Japan's Mt. Aso erupted for the first time in 22 years, with volcanic ash spewing into the air, causing flight cancellations and other disruptions.

The mountain on Kyushu Island, 625 miles south of Tokyo, had been dormant since 1993, but began releasing ash Tuesday. The Japan Meteorological Agency confirmed that Thursday a column of ash 3,280 feet high was observed coming from the 5,223-foot tall mountain.

Dozens of flights to and from nearby Kumamoto Airport were canceled because of poor visibility, and the cities of Aso, Kumamoto, Bungo-Ono and Gokase were covered Friday in layers of ash. Local farmers have already experienced crop damage because of the eruption.

"It's the first time in decades the farmers in our city have suffered such a loss," said an official of the rural town of Takamori.

Tourism has also been affected, with a ban on entry within one kilometer (.62 miles) of the mountain. "Depending on the wind conditions, the ash and rocks spewed from the volcano may affect tourists," Yoshioki Sato, the mayor of Aso, said Thursday.

Mt. Aso has erupted numerous times, prior to 1993, with volcanic activity typically continuing for months. A 1979, three climbers near the summit were killed and 11 were injured by falling rocks.

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