After a series of deadly earthquakes in Japan, a “small-scale” eruption of Mount Aso has been recorded by the Japan Meteorological Agency.
However, it decided to keep the alert level at 2, as it was not immediately clear whether the natural disasters were related.
Plumes of smoke rose some 100 meters into the sky, according to local media and videos captured by witnesses.
The eruption of Mt. Aso, located in southern Japan, was recorded at around 11:30pm GMT Friday. Since small eruptions had been recorded at Mt. Aso even before the series of deadly quakes hit the area on Thursday and Friday, the Japanese Meteorological Agency has reportedly decided to keep the alert level at 2 on a scale of 1-5.
The volcano eruption follows two deadly earthquakes and dozens of powerful aftershocks that devastated Japan earlier this week.
On Friday (1:25am Saturday local time) a violent 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the city of Kumamoto on the island of Kyushu.
At least 11 people have so been confirmed dead in the disaster so far, while several dozens are feared to still be trapped under the rubble.
Some 760 were treated in hospitals while rescue teams continue to search ruined houses.
Just a day beforehand, the same region was rattled by a 6.5 quake, in which at least nine people were killed and more than 850 injured.
Authorities went on to evacuate over 40,000 people as scientists began to monitor nearby volcanoes for any signs of activity.
Japanese authorities were also worried about a potential repeat of the 2011 Fukushima disaster scenario, when a 15-meter post-quake tsunami caused a nuclear meltdown.
However, so far the Nuclear Regulation Authority said no irregularities had been recorded at three nuclear plants on the island of Kyushu and nearby Shikoku.
Over a hundred aftershocks have hit the region following the initial Thursday tremor.
Officials have warned that the risk of further strong aftershocks will linger for about a week.
Three major quakes this afternoon: M6.0 – Vanuatu, M6.2 earthquake north of Kumamoto and a M6.0 – 5km E of Uto, Japan
An afternoon of madness as three major quakes are reported, the first was a magnitude 6.0 – 86km NW of Port-Olry, Vanuatu, see picture above.
The second was this afternoon’s magnitude 6.2 earthquake north of Kumamoto, on the island of Kyushu in southwest Japan, which occurred as the result of strike-slip faulting at shallow depth.
Although the magnitude was not high the fact that the quake was shallow was responsible for considerable damage.
The third to strike this afternoon was a magnitude 6.0 – 5km E of Uto, Japan.
Today’s major quakes bring the April total to 12 and the year total to 40