A neighbour with a volcanic temper

It shot to fame in 1967 thanks to the James Bond film You Only Live Twice but now it seems to be vying for the limelight again as it shoots lava into the sky in a diabolical vein.

Japan’s Mount Shinmoe was an “extinct” peak way back in the 60s, serving as the perfect observation point for the 007 agent to scrutinise archvillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld in his secret base.

However, in reality the volcano is neither a secret rocket base, nor extinct.

In fact Mount Shinmoe jumped back into action only a few days ago, after 52 years in comatose mode, disturbing air and land traffic as it goes through one of its biggest eruptions as it spews and rocks on Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands.

The revamped volcano got back into action on January 27 and in its biggest explosion it managed to break windows eight kilometres away. Officials cannot determine how long the eruptions will continue but some are insisting the cycle could go on for weeks and even intensify.

A danger zone around Shinmoe has been set up to a radius of some four kilometres from the volcano’s crater. In the meantime although no serious injuries have been reported the volcanic ash is turning into a serious nuisance for residents in Takaharu, a town close to the foot of the volcano itself.

Transport services have been suspended from time to time and many schools had to close while farms are bearing the brunt of the fallout

Aid workers and volunteers should be arriving at the site today seeking to ease the distress of those who have been forced out of their homes. As one aid worker stated , “In many cases, volcanic eruptions can drag on and on, weighing heavily on the lives of evacuees.”

According to the Coordinating Committee for Prediction of Volcanic Eruptions under the Meteorological Agency up till now an estimated 80 million tons of ash have fallen on a wide area. But what is yet to occur is anybody’s guess.

It is a tedious waiting game for the residents of Takaharu and one which might as well be lost or won, the sooner the better. But until then observers, monitors and civilians will just have to tarry and try to cope with their angry neighbours as it huffs and puffs and tries to blow their house down.


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