Japan volcano town issues mudslide alert

TOKYO, Feb 17, 2011 (AFP) - More than 2,500 people living near a Japanese volcano that started erupting last month were advised Thursday to evacuate their homes as rain threatened mudslides from the accumulated ash.

The city of Miyakonojo in the southern prefecture of Miyazaki issued the advisory as rainfall that started Wednesday topped more than two centimetres (0.8 inches) in the area, local officials said.

But by Thursday afternoon, fewer than 100 people had moved to public shelters in the city, located at the foot of the 1,421-metre (4,689-feet) Shinmoedake volcano in the Kirishima range.

The volcano, which featured in the 1967 James Bond film "You Only Live Twice", continued a series of deafening blasts which began with the start of its first major eruption for 52 years in late January.

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