Thousands Evacuated in Phillipines as Mayon Volcano Spits Out Lava and Deadly Gas.

Villagers began evacuating from around the volcano last week. Photograph: Aaron Favila/AP
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By Editor-June 12th, 2023.

Mount Mayon, the most active volcano in the Phillipines began belching lava and sulfuric gas on Sunday, forcing the evacuation of nearly 13,000 residents in the southeast of the country’s main island, Luzon, said Phillipine government sources.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has  recommended everyone within a 6-kilometer (3.7-mile) radius or “danger zone” of the Mount Mayon volcano be evacuated due to the danger of landslides and flying rocks.

Since the alert level on the volcano was raised to 3 out of a possible 5 on Thursday, 88% of residents living in the danger zone have already been evacuated and efforts to relocate the rest are ongoing, the Philippine Provincial Information Office said.

Images showed families in Albay province carrying children and their belongings, boarding trucks and military vehicles and taking shelter at evacuation centers in local schools.

Phivolcs warned that a “hazardous eruption is possible within weeks or even days” after detecting a “relatively high level of unrest” at the volcano.

Within the past 24 hours, the Mayon Volcano Network recorded 21 weak volcanic earthquakes, and 260 rockfalls, as well as lava flow activity from the crater, according to Phivolcs.

The agency also detected three pyroclastic density currents – hot, fast-moving flows of ash, hot gases and debris that rush down volcanic slopes – and warned of possible ashfall on the south side of the volcano.

Albay province was placed under a state of calamity on Friday allowing the government to release response funds to support affected residents, CNN affiliate CNN Philippines reported.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Phivolcs director Teresito Bacolcol said they were closely monitoring the situation at the volcano and could raise the alert level to 4 if there is an increase in volcanic earthquakes and inflation of the volcano’s edifice.

Associated Press journalists watched from a distance as lava flowed down the volcano’s south-eastern gullies for hours on Sunday night. People hurriedly stepped out of restaurants and bars in a seaside promenade in Legazpi, the capital of north-eastern Albay province about 8.5 miles (14km) from Mayon, many of them snapping pictures of the volcano that is a popular tourist site known for its picturesque conical shape.

Marilyn Miranda said she, her daughter and 75-year-old mother, who recently had a stroke, fled their home in a village within the danger zone in Guinobatan town on Thursday and sought shelter at a high school turned evacuation centre. Her nephew has been returning to their home each day, as have other men in their impoverished rural neighbourhood to guard their houses and farm animals, she said, reports The Guardian.

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