Japan volcano eruption triggers highest alert, locals' evacuation... UPDATE: Magnitude 7.0 earthquake strikes off the coast of Alaska - USGS
A sudden volcano eruption on the small southern Japanese island of Kuchinoerabu-jima has forced authorities to raise the alert to the highest level and advise evacuation of the immediate area. Residents have fled by boat to the nearest neighboring island.
Authorities decided to evacuate the island's 137 residents, NHK national television reported. The residents fled by boat to the closest neighboring island of Yakushima, one hour away.
"All I could bring were a few emergency goods. It was utter chaos," one man told Fuji TV. "I'm really worried about things back home."
Mount Shindake suddenly erupted at around 10:00 a.m. local time, sending a large plume of black smoke some 9,000 metersinto the sky. The Japan Meteorological Agency has issued a level five warning for the area, the highest on its scale.
7.0 magnitude quake strikes offshore Alaska: USGS
An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 struck off the southwest coast of Alaska late on Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
The USGS said the quake's epicenter was 104 km (64 miles) south-southeast of Ugashik and 61.7 km deep. The agency upgraded the temblor to a 7.0 after initially stating it was slightly weaker.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that based on its available data, no tsunami was expected.
The USGS said the quake was unlikely to cause casualties and notable damage, and there were no immediate reports of such.
The area near the quake, centered some 400 miles (643 km) southwest of Anchorage, is lightly populated, according to the USGS.
(Reporting by John Stonestreet in London and Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Mark Heinrich)