More than 2500 people living near a volcano that has been spewing ash in southern Japan were advised to evacuate their homes after heavy rain threatened mudslides of accumulated ash, a local official said.
Shinmoedake began erupting in late January, in its biggest activity in some 300 years. The volcanic activity has disrupted airline flights and blanketed nearby vegetable farms with ash, but there have been no reports of serious injury or deaths.
The Japan Meteorological Agency expected rainfall of more than 4mm per hour to last until Thursday night, an amount that the local government said could cause mudslides.
The official, in the city of Miyakonojo, said 63 people had moved to evacuation centres by midday.
The town of Takaharu, located at the foot of 1421m mountain on the southern island of Kyushu, also advised about 250 residents and a business to prepare for evacuation in case it was necessary.