Friday, June 23, 2006

Eruption of ashes sparks evacuation

About 450 residents from the Philippines' restive Mount Bulusan were evacuated as the volcano spewed ash and gravel after an explosion on Sunday, fearing signs of increased activity.

According to the AP, the scientists said they needed to gather more details and possibly conduct another aerial survey of Bulusan's summit before they can assess prospects of a major eruption.Renato Solidum, director of the Philippine Institute of Seismology and Volcanology, revealed Sunday's explosion belched ash up to two kilometers (1.2 miles) into the sky, accompanied by a number of mild tremors.

No one was hurt and the volcano was reported quiet on Monday.Local disaster relief official Noel Pura reported about 350 residents were ferried by military trucks and government vehicles from villages close to the volcano in Juban and Irosin towns, 390 kilometers (240 miles) southeast of Manila, to evacuation centers about five kilometers (three miles) away.

Mayor Edwin Hamor of nearby Casiguran town reported another 100 villagers living near the slopes of the volcano moved to a high school, but that most of the men stayed behind to guard their homes and farms.Authorities estimated more than 20,000 people face a possible evacuation in case of a major eruption, and set out plans for erecting tents cities outside a six-kilometer (four-mile) radius of the volcano.Hamor says rains on Sunday night increased the danger of ash and debris falling from the volcano, prompting the evacuation of residents.

The volcano's last major eruption was in 1994.The Philippines, which has about 22 active volcanoes, sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where volcanic activity and earthquakes are common.In June 1991, Mount Pinatubo in the northern Philippines exploded in one of the world's biggest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century.

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