Philippines raises volcano alert level as eruptions spew ash

Philippines raises volcano alert level as eruptions spew ash

The earthquakes come as the Mount Mayon volcano, located in the Albay province of central Philippines, erupted on Saturday afternoon - followed by a further five-minute eruption on Sunday morning.

Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum Jr said the phreatic eruption is ongoing and the plume height of an estimated three kilometers and direction is bent towards southwest directions of the province of Albay due to strong winds.

In the second eruption, the volcano emitted a grayish steam and ash cloud as sulfurous odor was also detected where rumbling sounds were heard by residents in Barangay Anolong in Camalig.

Mayon, one of the most active volcanoes in the country, first spewed ashes, which reached 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) in a phreatic eruption, lasting for nearly two hours on Saturday afternoon.

Phivolcs also advised residents in nearby towns to avoid inhaling volcanic ash by covering their noses with wet towels and shutting windows.

Phivolcs has raised Alert Level 2 over the volcano, which means the "current unrest is probably of magmatic origin, which could lead to more phreatic eruptions or eventually to hazardous magmatic eruptions".

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The authorities have warned people off a six-km radius around the volcano, and have issued a level 2 alert as concern grew over the possibility of stronger and more unsafe eruptions. Its most destructive eruption was in February 1841, when lava flows buried a town and killed 1,200 people.

People living close to the volcano, but outside the official danger zone, were told to take precautionary measures against roof collapses due to accumulated ash and rainwater.

But Cedric Daep, head of the Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said those in evacuation centres may be allowed to return to their homes later in the day, unless the volcano alert level was raised further.

Residents of at least two villages within the six kilometer radius around the volcano have already been evacuated, but some people still remain in the danger zone, hoping the threat is not yet "critical".

"Alert level 3 is what we consider critical, 4 is when eruption is imminent, and 5 is eruption in progress".

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