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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – Base residents awoke Monday to a film of volcanic ash covering streets, buildings and vehicles.

The gray, talcum-like powder spewed from Mount Asama, about 65 miles northwest of the base, according to command information broadcast on American Forces Network during its live Super Bowl coverage.

Department of Defense Dependent Schools on base were ordered closed for the day, but all other base operations were to carry on as usual, according to school and base officials. Airmen were permitted to wear their utility uniforms instead of their blues typically required on Mondays.

Bruce Derr, superintendent of DODDS Japan, said he received notification early Monday morning from base officials about the ash and for health and safety concerns for the children, the decision was made to close Yokota schools. He added that he expected the schools to reopen on Tuesday unless there was another eruption.

Schools on other Kanto Plain bases were unaffected by the volcano and remained open, Derr said.

Japan's Meteorological Agency on Sunday had warned of an eruption within two days, according to Reuters news service. Base officials said the eruption occurred about 2 a.m. Monday, belching ash thousands of feet in the air.

Mount Asama, a 8,425-foot peak, is one of the more active volcanoes in Japan.


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