A red mass can be seen flowing down one side of the volcano
Sakurajima began erupting at about 8:05 pm (11:05am) on Sunday, the Japanese Meteorological Agency has said.
There were reports of volanic stones raining down at a distance of 2.5 km (1.5 miles) from the volcano, NHK public television said. The eruption alert level has been raised to 5, the highest, with some areas advised to evacuate, it added.
Sakurajima is one of Japan’s most active volcanoes and eruptions of varying levels take place on a regular basis. In 2019 it spewed ash 5.5 km (3.4 miles) high.
Video footage from Sunday’s eruption showed what appeared to be a red mass flowing down one side of the volcano, with red projectiles shooting out while smoke, hard to see in the darkness, billowed up.
Most of the city of Kagoshima is across the bay from the volcano but several residential areas within about 3 km (1.9 miles) of the crater may be ordered to evacuate, NHK said.
Officials at prime minister Fumio Kishida’s office were gathering information about the situation, but have so far advised the government to take steps to protect lives following the eruption.
Japan’s nuclear regulator has confirmed there are currently no irregularities detected at Sendai nuclear power plant near Sakurajima following the eruption.