The Town Where Everyone Wears A Gas Mask
The age old adage, “Home is where the heart is,” finds its true meaning in Miyakejima, a small island located in southeast Japan. Despite the high level of volcanic activity that causes poisonous gas to leak from the earth and forced 3,600 island residents to evacuate in 2000, some residents just can’t stay away. Thus the self-appointed gas mask town rose from the ashes.
Resting atop a chain of volcanoes, Miyakejima is a hub for volcanic activity. For the past century, the volcanoes have erupted six times. The worst of these occurred in June 2000 when, after a repose of 17 years, Mount Oyama erupted. 17,500 earthquakes followed the eruption, which hit the island between June 26 and July 21.
During the assault of eruptions and earthquakes, ash plumes soaring 10 miles high enveloped Miyakejima, and heavy ash fall alongside crater collapses. The disaster also led to high levels of toxic sulfur dioxide regularly leaking up through the ground, making 20% of the land uninhabitable. After three months, the government took action and forced a mass evacuation in September.