Japanese Volcano May Be Headed for Big Bang
Officials urge 1K to evacuate as Shinmoedake spews ash
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2011 4:55 AM CST
Updated Jan 31, 2011 9:56 AM CST
A dome of lava grow larger inside the crater as volcanic ash billows from Mount Shinmoedake in the Kirishimna range on Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
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(Newser) – 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.