Japanese officials urged more than 1,000 people to evacuate today, as the Shinmoedake volcano's first eruption in 52 years rages on, the Christian Science Monitor reports. The order is not mandatory, however, and some are opting to stay in their homes. But vulcanologists warn that the eruptions, which have been spewing ash and debris into the air since Wednesday, bear an eerie similarity to a set of catastrophic blasts from nearly 300 years ago, so they fear a bigger blast is coming, the South China Morning Post reports.
"It has already reached the 'magma-eruption' stage, in which magma directly erupts from the volcano," one professor said. "So more violent eruptions could take place." The Meteorological Agency is keeping watch on the volcano by helicopter, and today expanded the no-access danger zone around the peak to two miles. The eruption has canceled flights, disrupted train service, and closed multiple schools. Shinmoedake, one of dozens of volcanoes in the region, may be familiar to James Bond fans as the site of a villain's hidden rocket base in You Only Live Twice.