Mount Sakurajima, one of Japan’s most active volcanoes

These ominous pictures show volcanic smoke billowing from one of Japan’s most active volcanoes, Mount Sakurajima, captured as its erupted for the 500th time this year.

At 5000m, this is the highest plume of ash recorded from the mountain since 1955, and caused darkness and ash falls over the centre of nearby Kagoshima city.

Situated on the southern Japanese main island of Kyushu, the 1,117 metre (3,686 ft) volcano began erupting on the night of August 18, local time.

11 Impressive ash cloud reaches for the sky as Japanese volcano erupts for the 500th time this YEAR

Eruption: In this photo released by Kagoshima Local Meteorological Observatory, volcanic smoke billows from Mount Sakurajima in Kagoshima, on the Japanese island of Kyushu

21 Impressive ash cloud reaches for the sky as Japanese volcano erupts for the 500th time this YEAR

31 Impressive ash cloud reaches for the sky as Japanese volcano erupts for the 500th time this YEAR

Record-breaking: At 5000m, this is the highest plume of ash recorded from the mountain since 1955, and spread darkness over nearby Kagoshima city

41 Impressive ash cloud reaches for the sky as Japanese volcano erupts for the 500th time this YEAR

Health-risk: Locals living in the shadow of Sakurajima have been urged to cover up and wear masks while the ash fall is heavy

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