PICTURED: Volcano erupts and rains ash down on residents miles away sparking evacuations

Japan raised its emergency alert level to the maximum five and urged residents to evacuate after a volcanic eruption.

Sakurajima on western island Kyushu erupted at about 8.05pm local time today, the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.

There were reports of volanic stones raining down at a distance of 2.5 km (1.5 miles) from the volcano, according to state broadcaster NHK.

The eruption alert level has been raised to 5, the highest, with some areas advised to evacuate, it added.

Nearby nuclear power plant Sendai saw no irregularities, regulators confirmed.

More to follow…