TOKYO, Japan - After sitting dormant for 250 years, a volcano in southern Japan, Mount Io spewed smoke and ash high into the sky, in what became its first eruption since 1768.
In a statement issued on Friday, Japan's Meteorological Agency said that the volcano spewed its first plume of ash in 250 years and that authorities set up a no-go zone around the mountain.
Authorities even pointed out that the no-go zone was expanded to the entire mountain from previously just around the volcano's crater.
However, after first spewing smoke and ash on Thursday, explosions subsided at Mount Io on Friday, yet officials cautioned residents in nearby towns against falling volcanic rocks and ash.
Yet, Meteorological Agency official Makoto Saito warned, “There is a possibility the volcano will become more active.”
According to officials, the volcano is part of the Mount Kirishima group of volcanoes straddling Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures, on Japan's southern main island of Kyushu, which is spread across 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) of the area, southwest of Tokyo.
Saito further warned in a televised news conference that residents in the area were to stay away from the volcano as major ash deposits spread from the crater.
The agency warned that the volcano could send large rocks crashing into areas as far as 3 km from the 1,317-meter-high crater.
Local media broadcast footage showing the mountain sending an ash plume about 300 meters into the sky, and thick gray and white smoke rising from several areas of the mountain.
There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Commenting on the incident, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the central government was “taking all possible measures” to prevent damage and casualties.
In March, another volcano nearby also erupted violently for the first time in seven years.
In March, merely a few kilometers away from Mount Shinmoe, the volcano featured in the classic 1967 James Bond film “You Only Live Twice,” erupted.
Before that, in January, a Japanese soldier was killed and several other people were injured after Mount Moto-Shirane, the volcano near a popular ski resort in Gunma Prefecture, erupted without warning.
Japan is prone to more volcanoes as it sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" and has 110 active volcanoes, it monitors 47 of them around the clock.