Evacuees increases as Mayon nears eruption


Glowing-red lava spurted in a fountain and flowed down the Philippines' most active volcano on Tuesday in a stunning display of its fury that has sent more than 34,000 villagers fleeing to safety and prompted police to set up checkpoints to stop tourists from getting too close. Molten rocks and lava at Mayon's crater lit the night sky for a second night, sending thousands of residents into evacuation shelters.

Although the sight of an active volcano is breathtaking, authorities have advised that people remain beyond the 3.7-4.3 mile danger zone around Mayon.

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the alarming situation has affected a total of 5,318 families or 21,823 individuals in 25 barangays in the towns of Camalig, Guinobatan, Ligao City, Daraga, Tabaco City, and Malilipot in Albay.

"There are some who still resist, but if we reach alert level four, we'll really be obligated to resort to forced evacuation", Cedric Daep, an Albay emergency official, told the Associated Press.

Alert Level 3 remains in effect over Mayon Volcano, which means that it is now in a relatively high level of unrest as magma is at the crater and hazardous eruption is possible within weeks or even days.

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Mayon lies in coconut-growing Albay province about 210 miles southeast of Manila. The most recent episode before the current occurred in 2013 when an eruption of ash killed five people who attempted to climb the volcano despite warnings.

On Tuesday morning, Phivolcs video recorded a "pyroclastic density current", which the Geological Society of London defines as "high-speed, gravity-driven flows of hot particles and gas" that are "a common and highly destructive product of explosive volcanism", at the Miisi Gully. More extensive explosions of ash could drift toward nearby towns and cities, including Legazpi city, the provincial capital, about nine miles away.

"This means Mayon is exhibiting relatively high unrest and that the magma is at the crater and eruption is possible within weeks or even days", Phivolcs explained.

Scientists said it was highly unlikely Mayon would have a similar eruption.