Japan's Sakurajima volcano – located just 30 miles from the Sendai nuclear power plant – has erupted, sending lava flowing down the mountain's side and producing lightning flashes. The Meteorological Agency said the eruption began at around 7pm local time.

The volcano had shown signs of increased activity since August 2015 and locals had been warned to prepare for an eruption. A 2km radius no-go zone has been established around Sakurajima. There have been no reports of any injuries.

sakurajima
Sakurajima volcano erupts in JapanJapan Meteorological Agency

As well as spewing lava into the night sky, lightning flashes and dark grey smoke was seen coming from the crater. Volcano expert Kazuhiro Ishihara, professor emeritus at Kyoto University, told public broadcaster NHK that the eruption was not likely to have any serious impact on nearby residential areas – ash and rocks were spewed about 2km into the air.

The eruption was average for the volcano and a similar size to that seen in September 2015. Ahead of that eruption, the Japan Meteorological Agency said there was a risk stones could "rain down" on areas near the mountain base.

But this and the latest eruption are nowhere near as big as that seen in 1914. That was Japan's most powerful eruption of the 20th century and caused lava flows to fill the narrow strait between the island and the mainland – turning it from an island to a peninsula.