Residents of a Japanese volcanic island have started returning home, almost five years after an eruption forced a mass evacuation.

About 60 former residents of Miyakejima Wednesday began returning to the island 180 kilometers south of Tokyo. 

The Mount Oyama volcano continues to spew poisonous fumes and all residents and visitors to the island must carry gas masks in case of increased emissions.

About 2,000 of Miyakejima's 3,000 residents are expected to return home during the next few months. But several parts of the island remain off-limits because of deadly fumes.

The residents have been living in temporary housing on the mainland ever since Mount Oyama began spewing rocks and gas in 2000.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.