Mt. Hakone erupts in Japan, alert level heightened

Updated: 2015-06-30 16:35


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Mt. Hakone erupts in Japan, alert level heightened

A video grab from the Japan Meteorological Agency's live camera image shows smoke rising from Owakudani vally at Mount Hakone where a small volcanic erupted, in Hakone town, west of Tokyo June 30, 2015.[Photo/Agencies]

TOKYO - Japan's Meteorological Agency (JMA) said Tuesday that a volcanic eruption had occurred at Mount Hakone in Kanagawa Prefecture at some points between Monday night and Tuesday morning and warned of the possibility of bigger eruptions being set off in the vicinity.

The JMA raised its alert level from 2 to 3 on its scale of 5, warning people to stay away from the volcano and its crater. It also said a larger eruption could take place according to the latest seismic and geological activity detected and the residential region of Owakudani could be affected.

Owakudani, located southwest of Tokyo, is a popular tourist spot and also the location of a number of earthquakes recently.

In early May the town government of Hakone issued an evacuation order for an area about 600 meters in diameter from the crater of the volcano which also straddles Kanagawa and Shizuoka prefectures.

The JMA confirmed Tuesday that fresh layers of volcanic ash had been detected near a newly-found vent in the Owakudani valley, after the volcano had been emitting irregular amounts of steam in recent months.

The weather agency sent a team of experts to the mountain on Monday morning, while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's office set up an emergency liaison office to deal with the disaster and its potential escalation.

The JMA said it had detected 14 earthquakes on Monday as of 13: 07 local time, with the magnitudes of those in the Kanazawa and Shizuoka areas ranging between 1.9 and 3.2.