Wednesday, May 18, 2005

People in the Philippines warned to stay away from the danger zone

Philippine government scientists on Sunday urged Filipinos to keep their distance from three volcanoes in the country, which have been showing signs of increased activity.In one of the volcanoes, Mount Mayon in the eastern province of Albay, scientists have monitored indications that magma was pushing up the surface."Hence, there is a possibility that the volcano might erupt," said Renato Solidum, director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs)."There is no timeframe yet, so there is no cause for alarm yet," he added.

"But we advise the public not to venture inside the six-kilometre radius permanent danger zone."Solidum said among the signs monitored at the 2 462-metre Mayon, famous for its almost perfectly symmetrical cone, were volcanic earthquakes "above normal levels", a faint crater glow and steam emissions.

Mayon's last major eruption was in February 1993, when at least 78 people died. Its deadliest eruption was in 1814 when it buried an entire town under ash and killed more than 1 300 people.Phivolcs is also keeping a close eye on Mount Kanlaon in the central province of Negros Occidental, and Taal volcano in Batangas province, just south of Manila.

"The two have above-normal levels of activities," Solidum said. "At Kanlaon, from time to time there are ash emissions which are not really hazardous except for those right at the crater."At Taal, which tourists often visit to see its crater lake, Phivolcs has recorded increased volcanic earthquakes but "other parameters are not showing any abnormalities yet", he added.Solidum said Phivolcs was not yet recommending any evacuation around the three volcanoes, but urged the public to take precautionary measures.

"We advise the public not to go inside the main crater area of Taal," he said."We also advise the public to cover their noses with masks or handkerchiefs so they will not inhale fine ashes being emitted by Kanlaon from time to time," he added.Kanlaon last erupted in August 1996 but has no destructive eruptions yet.Taal has been quiet since its last eruption in October 1977. Its deadliest eruption was in 1911 when it killed 1 334 people and its ashes reached Manila.

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