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Mount Oyama Eruption: Japanese Authorities Order Remaining Residents of Miyake off Island

Aired September 1, 2000 - 2:16 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Authorities ordered the 1500 remaining residents of Miyake off the Japanese island today. They're travelling to Tokyo to escape a volcano that bubbled to life again this week.

Here's Tokyo bureau chief Marina Kamimura.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARINA KAMIMURA, CNN TOKYO BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): After two months of nerve-wracking activity from the peak that dominates their tiny island, belching out billowing clouds of smoke and showers of hot rocks and ash, what some had dreaded: an order to leave their island home for safer areas.

SHINTARO ISHIHARA, TOKYO GOVERNOR (through translator): Considering the importance of human lives, we made the decision to evacuate the residents of Miyake from the island.

KAMIMURA: Nearly two-thirds of the islanders had already left, rattled not just by the eruptions, but the tens of thousands of quakes like this that have shaken Miyake and other neighboring islands since the end of June. That includes 150 school children shepherded out earlier in the week, preparing to start classes at a boarding school in western Tokyo that fortunately for them is nearly empty, scheduled to be closed at the end of this school year.

"I do not like leaving my father," says this boy, "but there's nothing I can do. I miss him, but I will put up with it."

(on camera): But the children's parents are now scheduled to arrive at this Tokyo pier over the next few days on the ferries that normally make the six-and-a-half-hour journey between Miyake and Tokyo everyday.

(voice-over): Mudslides were the initial fear, triggered by quakes and rain loosening up layers of ash that make much of Miyake look as though it is blanketed in snow.

Now the big worry is this: experts say further eruptions could trigger pyroclastic flows. Torrents of superheated ash, dust and gas that move quickly, demolishing whatever lies in their path, such as in this eruption in southern Japan in 1991 that left 43 dead or missing, and is considered even more dangerous than the lava that buried hundreds of homes on Miyake before in 1983.

Even so, many must be wondering when and if they'll be allowed to go home again.

Marina Kamimura, CNN, Tokyo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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