Sunday, July 23, 2006

Mayon could have explosive eruption warn authorities

Philippine authorities warned of a possible "explosive" eruption at Mount Mayon today after the volcano spewed more lava overnight. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) urged residents around the 2 462m active volcano to stay away from the 6km danger zone even though there was no imminent threat. Renato Solidum, the head of Phivolcs, said past eruptions at Mayon have showed that lava flow is often followed by an explosion.

He said despite monitoring up to 300 instances of activity from Mayon every day, the alert level would remain on three. Volcanologists have been monitoring the mountain since today, when the alert level was raised to three on a 1-5 scale after Mount Mayon began spewing ash and lava. Phivolcs officials said the latest volcanic unrest was caused by collapsing lava deposits, sending up a thick cloud of grey smoke.

Villagers are fearful"Yes we are fearful that Mayon will finally erupt. Lava will be everywhere. People will die," said Dioscoro Serrano, a local farmer. Many villagers are refusing to voluntarily evacuate from their homes and farms near the volatile volcano, saying they will wait until the alert level is raised before leaving.Provincial authorities have asked about 4 000 people from local communities to evacuate.

"My people are very anxious. The 1993 eruption killed many from my village. I hope there will be those who will volunteer to help us evacuate should Mayon volcano erupts," said Benjamin Esquivel, a village chief. Experts said Mayon, the most active of 22 volcanoes in the south-east Asian country, was showing signs of a major eruption within weeks.

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