Volcanic ash triggers evacuation in Philippines, 'hazardous eruptions' feared

Phreatic eruption at Mayon Volcano at 8:49

Phivolcs raised the alert on Mayon Volcano to level 2 on Saturday after the first phreatic eruption, which created an ash column with an approximate height of 2,500 metres.

It also noted that a "faint crater glow" was observed on Saturday evening and Mayon has been "slightly swelling" since October and November past year.

A second ash eruption was also recorded before noon on Sunday.

Residents around Mayon Volcano are advised to be more vigilant, as government scientists raise the alert level for the volcano early Sunday, January 14.

"This means that current unrest is probably of magmatic origin, which could lead to more phreatic eruptions or eventually to hazardous magmatic eruptions", the Phivolcs said in its latest bulletin released on 10:50 a.m. local time.

PHIVOLCS said traces of ash fell on Barangay Anoling in Daraga, Barangays Sua, Quirangay, Tumpa, Ilawod, Salugan of Camalig, and Barangays Tandarora, Maninila, and Travesia in Guinobatan. The institute advised people near ashfall to cover their noses and mouths with a damp, clean cloth or dust mask.

Residents were evacuated from two villages near the volcano on Saturday. Civil aviation authorities must also advise pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano's summit as ash from any sudden eruption can be hazardous to aircraft.

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Photo of Mayon Volcano covered with thick clouds on the right side and grayish ashes at the left side.

Those within the slope of the volcano, but outside the 6-km danger zone, were told to take precautionary measures against possible roof collapses due to accumulated ash and rainwater. It last erupted in 2014.

Despite this, Cedric Daep, head of the Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said people in evacuation centres may be allowed to return home later today, unless Phivolcs raised the volcano alert level further.

"We have not reached the critical level", he said in a radio interview.

Mayon's biggest eruption was in 1841, when lava flows buried a town, killing 1,200 people.

Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum Jr said the phreatic eruption is ongoing and the plume height of an estimated three kilometers and direction is bent towards southwest directions of the province of Albay due to strong winds.

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