Volcanic alert level raised for Mt. Hakone in resort area near Tokyo

Photo taken on May 19, 2019 shows a closed road near Mt. Hakone where the volcanic alert level has been raised. Kyodo. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

TOKYO, May 19, 2019, Kyodo. Japanese authorities raised the volcanic alert level for Mt. Hakone on Sunday as seismic activity has been increasing in the popular hot-spring resort area near Tokyo, reported the Kyodo.

For the first time since 2015, the weather agency’s alert level stood at 2 on a 5-point scale, which calls for people not to approach the crater.

The agency said it decided to raise the level from 1 after the number of volcanic earthquakes increased to 45 on Saturday, compared with zero the previous day.

For Sunday, the number had reached 21 as of 9 a.m. The Japan Meteorological Agency warned of a possible eruption and volcanic cinders as fumarolic activity has been intensifying in areas around Owakudani, about 80 kilometers southwest of Tokyo.

After the alert level was raised, the town of Hakone in Kanagawa Prefecture decided to restrict entry around the crater and close a road leading to the area throughout the day.

The operator of Hakone Ropeway also suspended its service running through Owakudani for Sunday.

In 2015, small eruptions occurred at the 1,438-meter mountain and the agency’s alert level was raised to 3, warning people not to approach the volcano.

Prior to that, geological evidence suggests the mountain last erupted between the late 12th century and 13th century.

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