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Thousands evacuated in volcano area

By Agencies in Manila, Philippines | China Daily | Updated: 2014-09-17 07:06

Thousands of residents living near the Mount Mayon volcano, in the eastern Philippine province of Albay, were ordered to be evacuated on Tuesday after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology warned that a "hazardous eruption is possible within weeks".

In its 24-hour observation, the institute said Mount Mayon generated 32 earthquakes and 72 rock fall events since Monday. This prompted the agency to place the restive volcano under Alert Level 3.

"Alert Level 3 means that magma is at the crater and that a hazardous eruption is possible within weeks," the institute said.

It recommended the enforcement of a 6-km-radius permanent danger zone around the volcano and a 7-km extended danger zone on the southeastern portion due to the risk of rockfalls, landslides and sudden explosions as well as a dome collapse that could generate hazardous volcanic flows.

The institute's regional chief Ed Laguerta said the areas along the possible volcanic flow are the cities of Legazpi, Ligao and Tabaco and the towns of Daraga, Camalig, Malilipot and Santo Domingo.

"The southeastern part of the volcano's dome has eroded from past eruptions. This is where hazardous volcanic materials will most likely then flow down to these areas," Laguerta said.

"Presently, the volcano is already ejecting fragments from past volcanic activities. We are most concerned about the pyroclastic flow because it can move very fast and can cause death," he added.

The Philippine military said on Tuesday that it will deploy 50 vehicles to assist in the evacuation of 10,000 families from 60 villages that will be directly affected by Mount Mayon imminent eruption.

Mount Mayon, located about 340 kilometers southeast of Manila, has erupted more than 40 times over the past 400 years.

On May 7, 2013, the volcano spewed ash, killing five climbers, including three Germans who ventured near the summit despite the permanent danger zone.

Despite the risks, Mayon and its near-perfect cone is a favorite spot for volcano watchers. Most enjoy the occasional nighttime spectacle of the rim lit by flowing lava, viewing from the safety of hotels in Albay's capital, Legazpi.


(China Daily 09/17/2014 page11)

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