Mount Shirane, a 7,000ft active volcanic mountain, erupted on Tuesday (23 January) and is suspected to have triggered an avalanche in the area.

At least 15 people are reported injured due to the latest eruption in Gunma Prefecture, located northwest of Tokyo.

Emergency personnel have been deployed after calls were received from Kusatsu Kokusai Ski Resort saying there was an avalanche. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the volcanic eruption has been registered at 10am local time (1am UK time).

Smoke was seen rising from the southern side of the volcano while rocks were observed tumbling down. The agency warned there could be large ash deposits in the area as plume conditions are difficult to be ascertained amid poor weather.

"We are still trying to help them," local fire department official Yuji Shinohara told the AFP news agency, referring to the victims of the sudden eruption. "The avalanche was apparently caused by a volcano explosion," the official added.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated regularly as new information and developments become available.

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Japan volcano
Photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter on January 23 shows the area surrounding Mt. Shirane (top, L) in Gunma Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo Kyodo via Reuters