“There was a really loud, ‘dong’ sound of an explosion, and then black smoke rose, darkening the sky,” he told the national broadcaster NHK. “It smelled of sulfur.”
Hayashi said a few people on the island were still unaccounted for. One person, who lives in an area that is generally off-limits, was to be evacuated by boat as he could not travel safely to the shelter by land.
“The skies here are blue, but smoke is still rising to the west,” he said.
Kuchinoerabu is 50 miles southwest of the main southern island of Kyushu, and is a heavily forested mountainous national park island, supported mainly by tourism and fishing.