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Mountain Worker Injured in Japanese Volcano Eruption

May 26, 1991

TOKYO (AP) _ A volcano in southwestern Japan continued to spew out lava and hot gases Sunday, injuring a mountain worker and forcing the evacuation of 1,560 residents, police said.

Lava approached to within about 550 yards of a residential area in a town at the foot of the 4,485-foot Mount Unzendake in Nagasaki prefecture, said a police official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Huge clouds of white smoke billowed over the volcano, which erupted Nov. 17 for the first time in 198 years and then again on Feb. 12. Further eruptions have been predicted.

Joji Ueda, 36, had climbed to within about 1.5 miles of the volcano to look at the smoke when hot gases burned him on the arms and shoulder, the police official said. He said Ueda climbed down by himself.

Ueda had been in a group removing rocks from previous eruptions that accumulated at a barrier set up to block volcanic debris.

Lava began trickling from the volcano May 17, said Kenji Fujiwara of the Tokyo Central Meteorological Agency. On Sunday, he said, it suddenly spewed out gases containing hot ashes and rocks.

About 1,300 people were evacuated Friday, but returned to their homes the next day.

More than 1,200 residents were evacuated May 19 when torrential rains swept volcanic debris down a river, washing away two small bridges.

Update hourly