Japan’s Mount Aso volcano suddenly erupted as tourists watched from an observation station, all being filmed live.
Mount Aso erupted on Wednesday morning shortly after 11:40 a.m. local time.
The eruption sent a huge cloud of ash and dust into the air, engulfing the nearby landscape. There were no immediate reports of casualties, Reuters reported early Wednesday morning.
The 5,223-foot-high mountain is a tourist destination on the island of Kyushu in southern Japan.
There is a visitor center located a few miles from the volcano – the Aso Volcano Museum – which hosts a live YouTube broadcast directed to Mount Aso.
The livestream, which shows the current situation and also takes viewers back to the past 12 hours, describes how the volcano erupted. It can be seen below.
In the hours leading up to the eruption, the volcano is clearly visible to the camera, giving off a constant small plume of white smoke inside its crater.
As the morning passes, the smoke seems to get slightly thicker. Then, suddenly, the mountain is shaken by an explosion which sends a vast cloud of black ash soaring into the sky.
Within minutes, the camera view, which previously clearly showed the volcano, sky, and surrounding area, is completely obscured by the huge black cloud swiftly rolling over the landscape.
For a while, the cloud threatens to engulf the nearby reception center, from where people are watching.
Fortunately, the cloud stops short and within minutes is swept away by the wind, leaving the volcano as calm as before, although the surrounding landscape now looks gray.
Mount Aso’s ash plume reached 2.2 miles high, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
The agency raised the volcano’s alert level to three on a scale of five, warning people not to approach it. Below levels four and five, some people should start to evacuate.
The explosion comes as Spain’s Cumbre Vieja volcano in La Palma continues its month-long eruption, with lava having already destroyed hundreds of acres of land and around 2,000 buildings in recent weeks, though no one has been killed so far, according to Spanish News Agency Local.
Last week, the La Palma eruption engulfed a cement plant, prompting authorities to order a lockdown for people living nearby over fears of toxic fumes.