A volcano has suddenly erupted in central Japan spewing huge plumes of smoke into the sky and injuring several hikers.
The Mt Ontake, a 3,067-metre tall live volcano straddling Nagno and Gifu prefectures in central Japan, erupted at about 11:50 local time, according to Japan's Meteorological Agency.
Though the extent of injuries is unclear, there were local reports suggesting many hikers were injured.
Flights are also being rerouted in the region to avoid the rising ash. The mountain is located about 200kms from Tokyo.
A stretch of about three kilometres of the southern face of the mountain has been covered in smoke.
Authorities have warned of further eruptions and urged nearby residents to evacuate raising the warning level to three on a five-point scale.