Thousands evacuated and flights cancelled as volcano spews ash and rock

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Mount Mayon is expected to begin a “hazardous eruption”

Lava has started to flow from the Filipino volcano Mount Mayon, as volcanologists expect a hazardous eruption within “within weeks or even within days”.

Thousands evacuated and flights cancelled as volcano spews ash and rockThe Mayon volcano’s crater glows, as it is pictured from Daraga, Albay, the Philippines — Romulo Quinto Ceneta / via Reuters

It showed a bright crater glow on Sunday, signifying lava had started to flow from the crater.

The 2,462-metre (8,077-foot) high volcano, a tourist attraction in central Albay province because of its near-perfect cone shape, spewed ash and burning mud and rocks over the past two days, forcing more than 3,000 residents to evacuate from nearby villages, Reuters reported.

12,000 people have been ordered to leave their homes within a six-kilometre evacuation zone, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The Philippines‘ chief volcanologist warned of a possible eruption at Mount Mayon, as magma continued to pile up at the summit of the Southeast Asian country’s most active volcano.

Manila’s airport authorities said airline Cebu Pacific had cancelled flights to nearby Legazpi City for a second day on Monday, citing bad weather.

Heavy rain over the past few weeks could exacerbate the situation if it continues. Debris-filled rivers, called lahar, can flow incredibly quickly and destroy anything in their path.

Experts have also warned that a major eruption could trigger a pyroclastic flow, a current of hot gas that races down the slopes vaporising everything in its path.

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

Renato Solidum, chief of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), described Mayon’s current activity as a non-explosive magmatic eruption, but he would not rule out a more dangerous volcanic explosion in coming days.

“What we would like to see is if there would be enough pressure, gas pressure for the next magma that would go up,” he told ABS-CBN News Channel.

Phivolcs raised the volcano alert to level 3 late on Sunday after detecting the lava flow.

Solidum said raising the alert to level 4, under which the danger zone would be expanded and a hazardous eruption could happen within a few days, depending on how Mayon behaved in the next few hours.

Level 5 indicates an eruption is in progress.

People have been advised to stay away from a six-kilometre radius Permanent Danger Zone and a seven-kilometre Expanded Danger Zone on the volcano’s southern flank.

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