Photo/IllutrationResidents of Kuchinoerabujima island, Kagoshima Prefecture, arrive at Yakushima island Aug. 15 after being evacuated by ship due to fears of a volcanic eruption. (Tsuyoshi Takeda)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

YAKUSHIMA, Kagoshima Prefecture--Residents began evacuating from Kuchinoerabujima island here after authorities warned Aug. 15 that a volcanic eruption could be imminent.

The Japan Meteorological Agency raised the alert level to 4, which calls for preparations to evacuate, from 2, which cautions against approaching the crater of Mount Shindake.

The volcano last erupted in 2015.

The agency urged islanders to exercise extreme caution against possible pyroclastic flows and falling volcanic rocks within a 3-kilometer radius of the crater.

In response to the alert, the Yakushima municipal government instructed all 105 islanders to prepare to flee and called on elderly residents and those with mobility problems to evacuate immediately.

Kagoshima prefectural authorities are laying on ships and helicopters to transport the residents.

It was the first alert upgrade since May 2015, when the entire island evacuated due to an eruption.