Japan’s Mount Aso volcano erupted early Saturday, throwing out ash and smoke as high as 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) into the air, the country’s Meteorological Agency said.
The eruption reportedly occurred around 1:46 a.m. local time (12:46 p.m. EDT Friday) on one of the peaks of the 1,592-meter mountain in the Kumamoto Prefecture of Japan’s main southern island of Kyushu.
There have been no immediate reports of injuries and no people are known to live in the area. The meteorological agency, however, has issued warnings asking people not to go near the mountain because of an increased fear of loose and falling rocks. The alert level of the volcano has been raised to level 3 on a scale of 5.
“Mount Aso is in an unstable condition and could erupt again on the same scale,” an agency official told reporters, according to the Japan Times.
The city administration has opened shelters at 10 locations to minimize any possible damage to life and property.
Japan sits on the Pacific “ring of fire” and has over 100 active volcanoes. Mount Aso, a popular hiking spot, is one of its most active peaks and has had numerous smaller eruptions in recent years. In a 1979 eruption, three tourists were killed by large rocks that were thrown up in the eruption.
The country currently has around 12 volcanic warnings in effect, Japan Times reported.
Japan’s deadliest eruption in almost a century occurred on Sept. 27, 2014, when a shock eruption at Mount Ontake, in Nagano Prefecture on the country's main island of Honshu, led to the death of an estimated 63 people.