A haunting scene played out Friday morning in Japan.
Thirty thousand feet in the air black plumes of smoke erupted from a volcano. Like black ink poured into a glass of milk, the dark ash completely filled the sky. The beast of a volcano is called Mount Shindake and is on the island of Kichinoerabujima. It has erupted three times in the last 35 years – once in 1980, again in August 2014 and now. Japan is made up of islands formed by eruptions like these, so they’re no stranger to volcanic activity. There are only one hundred and forty people living on the island and Japanese coast guards evacuated all of them. Luckily this giant, picturesque event didn’t claim any lives and had only one minor injury reported.
Charlie Mandeville is the coordinator of the Volcano Hazards program and he tells us that the eruption so perfectly engulfed the sky that a few flights have had to be diverted to different paths to avoid running into the opaque mess. He also said that overall travel hasn’t been affected too greatly because the island is fairly remote.
Mount Shindake is a classic stratovolcano, that Japanese scientists have been keeping their eye on for some time. They had noticed an increase in steam coming from the crater just over a week ago, giving some warning to the eruption this week. “We could be in for more activity from this volcano, it certainly has magma in its core,” says Mandeville.
Nobuaki Hayashi, a village chief reflects, on the events: “There was a really loud, ‘dong’ sound of an explosion, and then black smoke rose, darkening the sky.”