A fresh lava dome welled up in Mount Unzen's fiery crater Friday, raising fears of another eruption and prompting a speedup of evacuations just five days after a flood of molten rock killed at least 38 people.
Officials at the national Meteorological Agency's Unzendake Observatory said the new dome of lava could break the hardened lava near the top of the crater and unleash another eruption.Three volcano experts - including one American - and 14 journalists were among at least 38 killed Monday in Japan's first deadly eruption since 1962.
"We view the volcano as in the crest state in its activity, so I imagine the next few days will be extremely dangerous," said Masaaki Kimura, an assistant professor of science at Ryukyu University.
But the size of the new lava dome was less than half the old dome, the Yomiuri newspaper reported.
Most people have been moved a safe distance from the 4,452-foot volcano, 600 miles southwest of Tokyo.
Shimabara city, at the foot of the mountain, Friday widened its off-limits areas to cover an additional 1,100 residents. The total evacuation area affects 5,100 people, about 11 percent of the population.
Authorities in the Philippines said Friday a volcano that spewed ash for the first time in more than 600 years could be near eruption. "The volcano is very, very unstable now and may erupt within 24 hours," Raymundo Punongbayan, director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, said. Residents living within a six-mile radius of Mount Pinatubo, 60 miles northwest of Manila, have been evacuated.