The most active volcano in the Philippines spewed fountains of lava and massive ash plumes in a new eruption today that forced more than 50,000 villagers to evacuate. Fountains of lava fountains gushed 700m up above Mount Mayon’s crater and ash plumes rose up to 3km, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.
Authorities warned that a violent eruption may occur in hours or days, characterised by more rumblings and pyroclastic flows – superheated gas and volcanic debris that race down the slopes at high speeds.
On high alert
After Monday’s explosion, officials raised Mayon’s alert level to four on a scale of five, and the danger zone was expanded 8km from the crater, requiring thousands more residents to be evacuated, including at least 12,000 who returned to their homes last week as Mayon’s rumblings temporarily eased and then scrambled back to the emergency shelters this week.
At least 56,217 people were taking shelter in 46 evacuation camps on Tuesday and army troops and police were helping move more villagers from their homes, officials said.
There have been no reports of deaths or injuries. Aircraft have been ordered to stay away from the crater and ash-laden winds, and several domestic flights have been cancelled.
More than 30,000 ash masks and about 5,000 sacks of rice, along with medicine, water and other supplies, were being sent to evacuation centres, the Office of Civil Defence regional director Claudio Yucot said.
Food packs, water, medicine and other relief may run out by mid-February if the eruption continues and new supplies fail to come on time, officials said.
Mayon has erupted about 50 times in the last 500 years, sometimes violently. The Philippines, which has about 22 active volcanoes, lies in the “Ring of Fire,” a line of seismic faults surrounding the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes and volcanic activity are common.