Pics: Japan's biggest volcano eruption in 50 years

World | | January 31, 2011, 3:10 pm
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Volcanic ash billows from Mount Shinmoedake in the Kirishimna range on Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu on January 27, 2011. Officials urged more than 1,000 residents to seek safer ground and expanded a no-access zone around the 4,662-foot volcano that has exploded back to life. The volcano erupted last week for the first time in 52 years.

Volcanic ash billows from Mount Shinmoedake in the Kirishimna range on Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu on January 27, 2011. Officials urged more than 1,000 residents to seek safer ground and expanded a no-access zone around the 4,662-foot volcano that has exploded back to life. The volcano erupted last week for the first time in 52 years.

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A dome of lava grows larger inside the crater of Mount Shinmoedake in the Kirishimna range on Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu, January 31, 2011.

A dome of lava grows larger inside the crater of Mount Shinmoedake in the Kirishimna range on Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu, January 31, 2011.

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The volcano is located in a remote part of the Kirishima range on the southern Japan island of Kyushu. No injuries have been reported. Five days after it burst back to life, the volcano was still spewing a spectacular plume into the air, sending a blanket of ash out over a wide area and prompting several hundred residents to seek shelter in evacuation centers.

The volcano is located in a remote part of the Kirishima range on the southern Japan island of Kyushu. No injuries have been reported. Five days after it burst back to life, the volcano was still spewing a spectacular plume into the air, sending a blanket of ash out over a wide area and prompting several hundred residents to seek shelter in evacuation centers.

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Officials in the town of Takaharu urged about 1,100 residents to go to evacuation centers because of the danger of debris, ash and landslides. The warning was not mandatory, however, and some residents were returning to their homes instead.

Officials in the town of Takaharu urged about 1,100 residents to go to evacuation centers because of the danger of debris, ash and landslides. The warning was not mandatory, however, and some residents were returning to their homes instead.

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Experts said a dome of lava was growing larger inside the volcano's crater, but it was not certain whether the dome would grow enough to spill over the rim and create large flows down the volcano's sides.

Experts said a dome of lava was growing larger inside the volcano's crater, but it was not certain whether the dome would grow enough to spill over the rim and create large flows down the volcano's sides.

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In this January 27, 2011 photo released by Takaharu Town Office, lightening is pictured with time exposure during an eruption from Mount Shinmoedake in the Kirishima range on the border of Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures, southern Japan.

In this January 27, 2011 photo released by Takaharu Town Office, lightening is pictured with time exposure during an eruption from Mount Shinmoedake in the Kirishima range on the border of Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures, southern Japan.

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A man takes a picture of volcanic ash rising from Mount Shinmoedake in the Kirishimna range at Takahara town in Miyazaki prefecture (state), southwestern Japan.

A man takes a picture of volcanic ash rising from Mount Shinmoedake in the Kirishimna range at Takahara town in Miyazaki prefecture (state), southwestern Japan.

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A masked man shovels volcanic ash from a roof of his residence in Miyakonojo, near Mount Shinmoedake in the Kirishimna range on Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu. The Japanese islands are volcanic in origin and dozens of active volcanos continue to erupt with some regularity across the country. In 1991, 43 people died in the eruption of Mount Unzen, also on Kyushu island.

A masked man shovels volcanic ash from a roof of his residence in Miyakonojo, near Mount Shinmoedake in the Kirishimna range on Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu. The Japanese islands are volcanic in origin and dozens of active volcanos continue to erupt with some regularity across the country. In 1991, 43 people died in the eruption of Mount Unzen, also on Kyushu island.

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The Meteorological Agency, meanwhile, broadened a no-access danger zone to two miles from the peak and was planning to send in helicopters to monitor activity near the crater. Small rocks ejected from the eruptions have broken windows in buildings and cars near Shinmoedake. The eruption has also disrupted train service, closed schools and forced some domestic flight cancelations.

The Meteorological Agency, meanwhile, broadened a no-access danger zone to two miles from the peak and was planning to send in helicopters to monitor activity near the crater. Small rocks ejected from the eruptions have broken windows in buildings and cars near Shinmoedake. The eruption has also disrupted train service, closed schools and forced some domestic flight cancelations.