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Alert level raised for tiny volcanic isle in southern Japan

Residents on Kuchinoerabu island have been urged to prepare for evacuation.

Japan has raised alert levels on a small southern volcanic island, urging its 105 residents to prepare for an evacuation amid growing risks of an eruption.

The Meteorological Agency raised the warning for Kuchinoerabu island from two to four on a scale of five after detecting increased activity at the Shindake volcano.

The volcano had its last major eruption in May 2015, forcing the island’s entire population of about 140 at that time to seek safety on nearby Yakushima island for several months.

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Residents of Kuchinoerabu island arrive at Yaku island in Kagoshima, southern Japan (AP)

A total of 105 residents were back on the volcanic island as of August 1, town officials said.

Local authorities told all residents to start preparing for an evacuation in case of another violent eruption, and urged elderly people within the two-mile high-risk zone to leave immediately to a community centre at a safer location on the island.

The agency cautioned against a possibility of getting hit by volcanic rocks and pyroclastic flows during an eruption.

Kuchinoerabu is located south of Japan’s southern main island of Kyushu. It can be reached only by a daily ferry from Yakushima, a bigger island about seven miles to the east.

Japan has about 100 active volcanoes and is frequently jolted by earthquakes.

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