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Danger zone up to 9 km; 40k flee

LEGAZPI CITY­­—The Albay provincial government on Tuesday expanded the danger zone around Mount Mayon to nine kilometers, as a fountain of lava, then ash and smoke spewed from the volcano.

Provincial officials said the buffer zone was expanded to keep locals from going back into the danger zone.

On Monday evening and early Tuesday, lava flowed out of the volcano’s crater.

In the city of Ligao and the towns of Camalig and Guinobatan, work was suspended in both private and public offices due to heavy ashfall from the volcano.

FLAMING LAVA. Mayon Volcano in Albay ejects smoldering lava as it continues to erupt Tuesday, with a giant mushroom-shaped cloud shooting up from the crater of the country’s most active volcano, darkening the sky and raining ash on surrounding communities while residents (below) are photographed  the day before carrying their belongings at the back of a truck during a forced evacuation in the nearby town of Daraga. AFP  

Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alert level to 4 on Monday after Mayon spewed out a column of ash and smoke 10 kilometers high. The agency has warned of a hazardous eruption in the coming days.

On Tuesday, Phivolcs said the rumbling sounds emanating from the volcano came from rocks falling from the lava fountain.

The activity was weaker than Monday’s sporadic explosions, however.

Phivolcs said Mt. Mayon was still swollen, and that it could spew more gas, ash, magma, rocks and lava materials.

Volcanologists said there were no indications that a violent eruption could happen similar to the eruptions in 1814 and 1987, but added they were not dismissing the possibility of a huge eruption.

The Albay provincial government ordered preemptive evacuation of about 40,000 residents within the nine-kilometer extended danger zone in case of a hazardous eruption. 

Areas affected by the preemptive evacuation were Sto. Domingo, Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, and the cities of Legazpi and Ligao in the southwest flank of Mayon Volcano where lava, pyroclastic flows and heavy ash falls events were occurring.

Five international and 18 domestic flights were canceled Tuesday due to the heightened volcanic activity. The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines ordered the temporary closure of Legazpi airport on Monday.

Philippine Airlines canceled four domestic flights from Manila to Legazpi, Cebu to Legazpi, Clark to Naga and Clark to Masbate while Cebu Pacific Air suspended six domestic flights from Manila to Legazpi and its sister airline Cebgo canceled 14 domestic flights from and to Tablas, Manila, Naga, Masbate, San Jose, Caticlan, Clark, Legazpi and Cebu.

Meanwhile, the Manila International Airport Authority announced that the Manila - Narita - Manila flights PR 431/432 of PAL, Nippon Air’s flight NH820 from Manila to Narita, and Jetstar flights 3K761-762 from Singapore - Manila - Singapore are also canceled due to volcanic disturbance of Mayon.

“We are closely monitoring the Mayon Volcano situation. Passengers with flights to and from the Bicol region over the next few days are advised to monitor their flight schedules. Airlines will provide updates as soon as possible,” Cebu Pacific said in a statement.

Also on Tuesday, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said it would monitor the impact of Mayon Volcano’s eruption.

Secretary Roy Cimatu said they will advise the public on the eruptions’ potential effects on the environment and even public health.

Volcanic gases, particularly sulfur dioxide, have significant environmental impact and hazardous effects on hhealth, he noted, saying the combination of sulfur dioxide, water and air could form sulfuric acid, a main component of acid rain.

Science research specialist Winchelle Sevilla of Phivolcs said ash from Mayon Volcano will likely continue falling on areas west of this mountain during the week, further affecting communities there.

The wind carries and disperses Mayon’s ash in the direction where the current of air is heading, Sevilla said.

“Our monitoring shows wind is carrying the ash westwards over longer distances,” he noted.

Volcanic ash may cause health problems when ingested and can damage areas where these abrasive and mildly corrosive particles fall, experts warned. With Joel E. Zubano, PNA

Topics: Mount Mayon
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