Volcano erupts near Tokyo
A volcano close to Tokyo erupted early Monday, sending smoke billowing skyward and covering parts of the Japanese capital in a thin layer of ash.
Mount Asama, about 145 kilometres from the Japanese capital, erupted around 2 a.m., spewing a plume of smoke almost two kilometres high, and reportedly launching chunks of rock a kilometre away.
There were no reports of damages or injuries. The eruption did not cause major disruptions in people's daily lives, although many confused city dwellers mistakenly took the fine ash for snow.
In Tachikawa, a district in northwestern Tokyo, some farming areas were coated with ash.
"Because it's February and not harvesting season, there was no real damage to any crops," Shoichi Matsumoto, a local official, told the Associated Press.
Japan's meteorological agency advised residents within a four-kilometre radius of the volcano to take caution, but held off from asking them to prepare for evacuation.
"We don't think there will be any stronger eruptions, but we don't see the activity stopping anytime soon, either," agency official Kazuya Kokubo told the Associated Press.
Mount Asama, which has been active for thousands of years, last erupted in August without causing major damage. Japan is pockmarked with active volcanoes, largely because of its position on the "Ring of Fire" — a series of volcanoes and fault lines that rim the Pacific Ocean.
With files from the Associated Press