Philippines raises alert level at Mayon volcano

Violet Powell
January 15, 2018

The Philippines' most active volcano rumbled back to life Sunday with lava rising to its crater in a gentle eruption that has prompted authorities to evacuate thousands of villagers.

Mayon Volcano in Albay Province generated a phreatic eruption (steam-driven) that propelled a grayish steam and ash plume approximately 2500 m high that was drifted to the southwest.

He added this prompted them to raise the Alert Level from 1 to 2, meaning "the current unrest is probably of magmatic origin which could lead to more phreatic explosions or eventually to hazardous magmatic eruptions".

Image: Ashes spewing from the volcano.

The council ordered the evacuation of residents inside and within the volcano's six-kilometer permanent danger zone.

A second ash eruption was recorded this morning, but Phivolcs has not yet raised the alert level any further.

Mayon volcano in Albay province spewed a smoke cloud on Sunday for the third time in less than 24 hours, state seismological office Phivolcs said as hundreds of residents fled to safer ground. In an 1814 eruption, roughly 1,200 people were killed and three towns were buried under mud and rock.

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The nearby residents in the majority-Catholic country have erected massive white crosses between their buildings and the volcano in prayer to fend off an eruption or keep their belongings in the event of one.

The public is strongly advised to be vigilant and desist from entering the six (6) kilometer-radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) to minimize risks from sudden explosions, rockfall and landslides.

In its notice-to-airmen (notam) on Sunday, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said the "existence and horizontal/vertical extent of volcanic ash cloud" may endanger all aircraft passing near the area and advised against flying close to the summit.

People living outside the danger zone but on the slopes of volcano were warned to take precautions against potential roof collapses due to the weight of ash and rainfall.

Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum said the volcano appeared due for another eruption as it has been displaying abnormal behavior since late a year ago.

This comes as a magnitude-5.1 natural disaster hit the Philippines, about 64 kilometres west-southwest of Batangas on the island of Luzon, the US Geological Survey says.

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