A pyroclastic flow of super-heated gas and rock flowed down the side of Mount Shindake and reached the ocean after the mountain's "explosive" eruption, but officials said there was no danger to human life.

"There was a huge bang and black smoke rose up immediately," Nobuaki Hayashi, an island official said.

One 72-year-old man suffered burns to his face after being caught in the pyroclastic flow, but there were no reports of other injuries among the island's 137 residents, whose only access to the outside world is by boat.

Watchful residents gathered on the roof of an evacuation centre, its parking lot packed with cars, as the peak continued to spew out smoke and ash. Ash blanketed part of the mountain's lower slopes and fell on the main harbour, turning it grey.

Japan's All Nippon Airways said it would divert some flights to Okinawa and Southeast Asia as a precaution, but didn't plan to cancel any. Japan Airlines (JAL) said it did not have any plans to change any of its flights.
Kuchinoerabujima island is about 130 km (70 miles) south of Japan's southernmost main island Kyushu, and roughly 1,000 km (620 miles) southwest of Tokyo.

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