Philippines' Mayon volcano alert raised as eruption feared


17 January, 2018

While Mount Mayon may be the most active, it certainly is not the only volcano in the Philippines.

Almost 15,000 people have fled the danger zone within 6 to 7 kilometers of Mayon, and the institute strongly advised people not to re-enter the area.

The Disaster Response Units (DRU's) of the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) are on standby alert over the situation at Mayon Volcano after Alert Level 3 was raised with an increased tendency towards hazardous eruption.

Lava flowed at least half a kilometer (less than half a mile) down a gulley from the crater and on Monday morning, ash clouds appeared mid-slope, said Renato Solidum, head of the volcano institute. Lava had advanced up to 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) from the crater, and ash reached up to 2 kilometers and fell on nearby communities.

But even as thousands of residents flee, tourists are flocking to the area, some 330 kilometers (205 miles) southeast of Manila to watch and photograph the spectacle, Danny Garcia, a spokesman for Albay province told Agence France-Presse.

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Mayon, a near-perfect cone that also draws thousands of tourists during its periods of quiet, rises 2,460 meters (8,070 feet) above Legazpi, a city of about 200,000 people surrounded by a largely agricultural region. The most recent episode before the current occurred in 2013 when an eruption of ash killed five people who attempted to climb the volcano despite warnings.

Experts fear a major eruption could trigger pyroclastic flows - superheated gas and volcanic debris that race down the slopes at high speeds, incinerating or vaporizing everything in their path.

"Alert level 3 remains in effect over Mayon Volcano, which means that it is now in a relatively high level of unrest as magma is at the crater and hazardous eruption is possible within weeks or even days", it said. It said the glow in the crater signified the growth of a new lava dome and that the evacuation zone should be enforced due to the dangers of falling rocks, landslides or a collapse of the dome.

In 1814 more than 1,200 people were killed when lava flows buried the town of Cagsawa.

CedricDaep, the chief of Albay's Public Safety and Emergency Management Office, said further evacuations are expected if Mayon continued to display increasing "abnormal activities".

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