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Japanese Volcanic Blast Shatters Windows for Miles March 18, 2011
Shinmoedake volcano (below) simmering in February during part of its nearly two-month lull in activity.
The strongest activity at southern Japan’s Shinmoedake volcano in 52 years shattered windows four miles away, sending hundreds of people fleeing the area.

Ash and other volcanic debris soared more than 6,000 feet into the atmosphere above Kyushu Island, about 950 miles from the epicenter of the catastrophic 9.0 magnitude quake off Honshu two days earlier.

Officials said it was unclear if the volcanic blast was related to the temblor.

Shinmoedake’s last blast was on Feb. 1. Its rumblings resumed on Jan. 19 after the peak had remained dormant for two years.

Vulcanologists have been warning that a lava dome was growing inside the volcano’s crater, but were not certain if it was a sign of an impending eruption.

Shinmoedake is one of several geologically active peaks in the Kirishima mountain range.

Photo: Japan Meteorological Agency