Japan volcano spews ash, flights cancelled

Train and flight services to Miyazaki in southwestern Japan were suspended on Friday as the erupting Shinmoedake volcano spewed columns of smoke and ash thousands of metres into the sky.

The 1,421-metre (4,689-foot) volcano in the Kirishima range between Kagoshima and Miyazaki has been belching smoke and ash into the air since late Wednesday, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The eruption prompted All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines to cancel a number of flights to and from Miyazaki while JR Kyushu Railway Company also suspended train services in the affected area.

In Takaharu town near the volcano, 31 people spent the night at an evacuation centre on Thursday.

Television footage showed the volcano billowing grey smoke into the sky, while residents used shovels to clear ash from streets.

There were no reports of damage or injuries, police said.

The Kagoshima observatory raised its five-scale warning level on the volcano from two to three, restricting access to the entire mountain, officials said.