TOKYO Jan 31 (Reuters) - More than 1,000 people in southern Japan have been urged to evacuate their homes near a volcano that has been spewing ash and rocks into the air, a local official said on Monday.
Shinmoedake began erupting on Wednesday and it has been some 300 years since the volcano has been this active.
About 600 residents of Takaharu, located at the foot of 1,421-metre (0.9-mile) high mountain on Japan's southern island, took shelter at gymnasiums and community centres following an evacuation advisory at 11:50 p.m. on Sunday (1450 GMT).
Some of them have left for work or to pick up daily necessities from home but most of them are expected to come back for the night, said Shuji Uchimura, a Takaharu municipal official.
It is not clear when the advisory will be lifted, he said.
The volcanic activity has disrupted airline flights and blanketed local vegetable farms in ash.