Sunday, July 16, 2006

Lava flows out of Mayon's crater

The Philippines decided on Friday to raise the alert level at the country's most active volcano and warned residents to stay away from the mountain after a lava spill was observed at its crater.

Mayon volcano in the central Philippines spewed ash on Thursday but lava was seen spilling from its crater late on Friday, prompting authorities to raise the alert level to 3 from 1 ordered in 2003.
"We're preparing to raise the alert level to 3," said Renato Solidum, director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. "At 6 p.m. (1000 GMT), our vulcanologists on the ground have observed lava trickles from its craters."

Solidum warned residents in Albay province not to venture within a 6-km zone of the 2,462-metre-high volcano because of fears of sudden hazardous eruptions.

At level 3 an explosion is considered possible, at level 4 it is likely and at level 5, the highest alert, a hazardous eruption has occurred.

"Hazardous eruption is possible," Solidum told reporters after lava was observed in the Mayon crater this week.

Vulcanologists have been watching Bulusan volcano in nearby Sorsogon province after it spewed ash and vented steam in March. Last month, authorities raised the alert level there to 2.

Mayon is the most active volcano in the country, having erupted around 50 times over the past four centuries. The most destructive eruption came in February 1841 when lava flows buried a town and killed 1,200 people.

The last time Mayon erupted was in 2000-2001.

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