HAKONE – According to the Japanese Meteorological Agency, a series of small earthquakes that have occurred since April 26th and have been steadily increasing could account for the smoke currently billowing around Mount Hakone.
A view of Lake Ashi from Mount Hakone in Japan. Story by: Risa Noguchi and Yuichi Hibi. Photo courtesy: WMC
On May 6th, three separate earthquakes occurred around Hakone city, which is the site of a number of hot springs. According to officials, high temperatures underground and volcanic gas have been reported.
Officials have also upped the level of caution people in the area should take bringing it up to level 2 of a possible 5 levels of danger. At level 3 people are asked to stay in their homes, at level 4 people are asked to prepare to leave, and at level 5 people are told to evacuate the surrounding area.
Several witnesses have seen smoke billowing out of Mount Hakone in the area and took to Twitter to post photos.
— naturally Mi (@naturallymichi) May 6, 2015
火山性地震が活発化している箱根大涌谷へ行って来ました。噴火したらどうしようと思いましたが無事帰還。蒸気モクモクと硫黄臭プンプンだったーฅ(ｰ̀กｰ́ ) ｸｯｾ!! pic.twitter.com/7lpJPhtPC1
— blue-flamingo (@seagull_blue) May 3, 2015
Most reports state that this is not an emergency situation, but ask people to take steps to be ready for any eventuality.
Currently part of route 734, which is a road that leads around Hakone city, is currently closed and the Hakone-ropeway, a popular tourist destination, has stopped service.
The Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 caused some earthquakes near to Mount Hakone; however, the last large-scale volcanic eruption at the mountain occurred over 3,000 years ago.
Hakoneyama is actually considered to be one of the most active volcanoes in Japan. One of the more recent near eruptions occurred in the 12th century where a huge steam explosion was reported.
So if Mount Hakone erupts how much more dangerous would it be than Mount Fuji?
There is a possibility that the damage could spread toward Tohoku and Chubu areas. As well, if few centimetres of volcanic ashes falls in a major city centre like Tokyo it could cause blackouts and traffic jams.
*Updates to follow*