Japan volcano Mt Ontake erupts, injuring climbers and forcing evacuations

Warning from meteorological agency that debris could fall more than two miles away

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The Independent Online

At least one person has been seriously injured following an eruption at Japan’s Mount Ontake volcano.

Several others, including mountain climbers caught out by the sudden and unexpected eruption on Saturday, have also been reported injured according to Japanese media reports.

A number of people have been evacuated from a mountain lodge near to the volcano while hundreds remain stranded. Aircraft have had their routes diverted.

Thick white smoke can be seen billowing from the 3,067-metre peak in some of the first pictures to emerge, while witnesses have spoken of hearing thunderous booms when the eruption started.

In a YouTube video published by the broadcaster (see below), climbers can be seen engulfed in smoke and ash from the eruption.

Mount Ontake sits on the border of the Nagano and Gigu prefectures and former part of the mountainous spine that runs down Honshu, Japan's main island.

Volcano smoke.jpg
Japan’s meteorological agency has raised the alert level for the volcano to three on a scale of one to five.

It has warned people to stay away from the mountain and said there was a risk that ash and other debris could fall up to 4km (2.5 miles) away.

Additional reporting by AP and Reuters