The idyllic ambiance around the Hakone area was shaken on Tuesday, as ash burst from a valley nearby Mt. Hakone, and scientists warned that even more volatile volcanic activity could soon occur in the region, located 80km west of Tokyo.
A Japan Today article said that 40 people were encouraged to evacuate the vicinity of the eruption, but thankfully no injuries befell them and no damage was reported.
An official from Japan’s Meteorological Agency was quoted as saying at a press conference that: “It was an extremely small scale eruption, but there is the chance of a larger one that could affect a wider area.” The official added that the volcanic warning level was raised from 2 to 3 (on a scale of 1 to 5); The Japan Times notes that the higher alert level indicates that people should stay away from entering the area.
Tokyo University volcanologist Toshitsugu Fujii said it would be difficult to predict the likelihood or severity of future eruptions because the mountain has had no such volcanic activity more than 800 years. He added: “If hot water or magma becomes involved, it could explode at a deeper level, and there would probably be very little warning… Things are now taking place at a shallow level and probably it won’t go that far. But you can’t say when that might change.”