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Japanese volcano erupts, grounding dozens of flights

The Shinmoedake volcano erupted violently several times, shooting up ash and smoke up to 7,500ft in its biggest explosion since 2011.

A volcano in southern Japan has erupted, shooting smoke and ash thousands of feet into the sky and grounding dozens of flights to and from a nearby airport.

The Meteorological Agency said the Shinmoedake volcano erupted violently several times on Tuesday, shooting up ash and smoke up to 7,500ft in its biggest explosion since 2011.

It said some lava was rising from inside a crater at the volcano.

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A column of volcanic smoke rises from the crater (AP)

The volcano, seen in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice, has had smaller eruptions since last week.

Entry to the 4,660ft volcano was restricted, and about 80 flights in and out of nearby Kagoshima Airport were cancelled.

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Cars and buildings covered with volcanic ash (Takuto Kaneko/Kyodo News/AP)

Japan has 110 active volcanoes.

Public broadcaster NHK showed grey volcanic smoke billowing into the sky and orange lava rising to the mouth of the crater on Japan’s southernmost main island of Kyushu.

In Kirishima city, at the foot of the volcano, pedestrians wore surgical masks or covered their noses with hand towels, while others used umbrellas to protect from falling ash.

Cars had layers of ash on their roofs.

There were no reports of injuries or damage from the eruptions. The agency said the volcanic activity is expected to continue and cautioned residents against the possibility of flying rocks and pyroclastic flows — superheated gas and volcanic debris that race down the slopes at high speeds, incinerating or vaporising everything in their path.

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