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Lava Dome Growing, Scientists Fear Large Eruption Soon With PM-Philippines-Volcano, Bjt

June 14, 1991

TOKYO (AP) _ A growing dome of lava inside a volcano in southern Japan that erupted and killed 39 people earlier this month could indicate another major blast is imminent, scientists said today.

Clear skies allowed scientists to get their first good look in days at the dome, which is formed by magma pushing its way up the inside of the volcano.

They found the ball of lava had grown to a height of 165 feet and that its width has grown from 150 to 300 feet since Tuesday, said a statement released by the Mount Unzen Observatory.

On Tuesday, an eruption at Unzen rained rocks on Shimabara, damaging property and cars.

The rapid growth of the dome indicates that the volcano, 600 miles southwest of Tokyo, continues to be extremely dangerous and a large eruption could occur at any time, said Kyushu University volcanologist Kazuya Ota.

Because of frequent volcanic tremors recorded today, the national Meteorological Agency issued a warning for residents of Shimabara, a city of 45,000 at the foot of the 4,480-foot mountain, to exercise extreme caution.

″It’s in a danger situation,″ said Makoto Nishiwaki, an official with the Meteorological Agency’s Seismological and Volcanological Department. ″It wouldn’t be unusual if it were to erupt at any time.″

Unzen caused Japan’s worst volcano disaster in 1792, when its rumblings caused a landslide and tidal waves that claimed an estimated 15,000 lives. After that it had been dormant until November.

It has been highly active since the June 3 eruption that killed 39 people.