Published On: Sun, Jan 14th, 2018

VOLCANO ALERT: Mayon volcano ERUPTION spews ash cloud 2.5km into air – alert level RAISED


The volcano, located in the Albay province of central Philippines, first spewed ash on Saturday afternoon –  followed by a further five-minute eruption on Sunday morning.

Since the eruptions, a “faint crater glow” has been observed, while the “rockfall events have been intermittently recorded and are continuing” according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

A statement from the agency read: “The public is strongly advised to be vigilant and desist from entering the six kilometres (3.7 mile) radius Permanent Danger Zone to minimize risks from sudden explosions, rockfall and landslides.”

Saturday’s eruption unleashed ash, rocks and sulfuric odour, with villagers reporting a rumbling sound beneath their villages.

Phivolcs raised the alert to level 2 in the early hours of Sunday, which means that the current activity is “probably of magmatic origin, which could lead to more phreatic eruptions or eventually to hazardous magmatic eruptions.”

A phreatic eruption, also known as a phreatic explosion, occurs when magma heats ground or surface water, resulting in steam rising into the sky.

A second ash eruption was recorded before noon on Sunday, but Phivolcs said in a subsequent bulletin that it was maintaining alert level 2.

Mayon’s most destructive eruption was in February 1841, when lava flows buried a town and killed 1,200 people. It last erupted in 2014, spewing lava and forcing thousands of people to evacuate.

People are not allowed to stay within a six-kilometre “permanent danger zone” of the volcano, known for its near-perfect cone shape, following the “phreatic or steam-driven eruption”, Phivolcs said.

This also suggests there is no imminent major eruption, but the disaster agency said it had ordered the evacuation of residents for the safety of their health due to expected ashfall.

It was not immediately clear how many residents had to leave the danger zone.

Phivolcs also advised people experiencing ashfall to cover their noses and mouths with a damp, clean cloth or dust mask. It also said aircraft must avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit.

Those within the slope of the volcano, but outside the danger zone, were told to take precautionary measures against possible roof collapses due to accumulated ash and rainwater.

Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum said: ”The volcano’s abnormal behaviour began late last year and it seems due for another one.”

But Cedric Daep, head of the Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said those in evacuation centres may be allowed to return to their homes later in the day unless Phivolcs raises the volcano alert level further.

He said not all residents evacuated live inside the 6km danger zone.

And he added that despite the evacuation warnings, some people still remain in the danger zone.

He said: “We have not reached the critical level. Alert level 3 is what we consider critical, 4 is when an eruption is imminent, and 5 is an eruption in progress.”


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