Philippines says hazardous volcano eruption possible 'within weeks or days'

by Reuters
Monday, 15 January 2018 14:56 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: A farmer walks with his buffalo with the Mayon Volcano in the background in Albay province, Bicol region, south of Manila September 17, 2014.REUTERS/Stringer

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Mount Mayon has spewed ash, burning mud and rocks in the past two days, forcing more than 3,000 residents to evacuate

(Corrects year of Mayon's most destructive eruption to 1814)

MANILA, Jan 15 (Reuters) - The Philippines' chief volcanologist warned on Monday of a possible hazardous eruption at Mount Mayon "within weeks or even within days", as magma continued to pile up at the summit of the Southeast Asian country's most active volcano.

The 2,462-metre (8,077-foot) high volcano, a tourist attraction in central Albay province because of its near-perfect cone shape, spewed ash and burning mud and rocks over the past two days, forcing more than 3,000 residents to evacuate from nearby villages.

It showed a bright crater glow on Sunday, signifying lava had started to flow from the crater.

Manila's airport authorities said airline Cebu Pacific had cancelled flights to nearby Legazpi City for a second day on Monday, citing bad weather.

Mayon's most destructive eruption was in February 1814, when lava buried a town and killed 1,200 people. It last erupted in 2014, spewing lava and forcing thousands of people to evacuate.

Renato Solidum, chief of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), described Mayon's current activity as a non-explosive magmatic eruption, but he would not rule out a more dangerous volcanic explosion in coming days.

"What we would like to see is if there would be enough pressure, gas pressure for the next magma that would go up," he told ABS-CBN News Channel.

Phivolcs raised the volcano alert to level 3 late on Sunday after detecting the lava flow.

Solidum said raising the alert to level 4, under which the danger zone would be expanded and a hazardous eruption could happen within a few days, depended on how Mayon behaved in the next few hours.

Level 5 indicates an eruption is in progress.

People have been advised to stay away from a 6-km (4-mile) radius Permanent Danger Zone and a 7-km Expanded Danger Zone on the volcano's southern flank. (Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Martin Petty and Paul Tait)

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