Japan’s weather agency on Saturday told thousands of residents near a southern city to prepare for a possible evacuation as it upgraded a volcanic eruption warning.

Officials raised their alert to its second-highest level after picking up increasing seismic activity around the volcano Sakurajima, which sits just off the coast of Kagoshima, a city of more than 600,000 people.

Activity has spiked since Saturday morning, they said.

The volcano is about 50 kilometres (31 miles) from a nuclear reactor that was switched on this week, as Japan restarted its nuclear power programme following the 2011 Fukushima crisis when a quake-sparked tsunami set off reactor meltdowns at the now-crippled site.

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