Japanese volcano Sakurajima blows out record-high smoke and ash

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Residents in a southern Japanese city were forced to wash ash off their streets on Monday after a volcano nearby released a record-high smoke plume into the sky.

Ash entered the air as high as 5 kilometres (3 miles) above the Sakurajima volcano in across Kagoshima on Sunday afternoon, forming the highest plume since the Japan Meteorological Agency started keeping records in 2006. Lava flowed about 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) from the fissure, and several huge volcanic rocks rolled down the mountainside.

Though the eruption was considered large in scale, the city’s 600,000 residents are used to hearing from their 1,117-meter (3,664-foot) neighbour. Kagoshima officials said in a statement that this was Sakurajima's 500th eruption this year alone.

Residents donned masks and raincoats, using umbrellas to shield themselves from the falling ash. Drivers had to use their headlights to drive through the cloud, and railway service was halted temporarily to clear ash from the tracks.

Officials said no injuries or damage were sustained from the volcano, which is about 10 kilometers (6 miles) east of the city.

By Monday morning, the air was clearer as masked residents sprinkled water and swept up the ash. The city was mobilizing garbage trucks and water sprinklers to clean up.

JMA says there are no signs of a larger eruption but similar activity may continue and an earlier warning issued to not venture near the volcano itself remains active.

Japan is on the "Ring of Fire," the seismic faults encircling the Pacific Ocean, and has frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity.

Additional reporting by Associated Press