Sunday, July 16, 2006

Mayon is active again!

The Mayon volcano erupted Friday, a day after ejecting ash amid swarms of earthquakes, the Philippines' chief volcanologist said.

"It is a quiet eruption as of now," said Renato Solidum, chief of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, who ordered the alert level raised after observers saw "lava trickles" flowing down the slopes of the 8,118-foot volcano.

"A hazardous eruption is possible. We don't know when, maybe within weeks," Solidum said.
He said scientists had expected lava flows after ash shot out of the volcano Thursday and earthquakes were recorded for two days.

Solidum said observers had not been able to see the crater as the top of the mountain had been obscured by clouds.

The government maintains a 3 3/4-mile "permanent danger zone" around the volcano's crater, but many residents still live or farm on its slopes. There was no immediate word on evacuations.
Cedric Daep, disaster action officer for Albay province, where Mayon is located, said authorities will strictly bar mountain climbers, farmers and other visitors from venturing into the danger zone.
A major tourist attraction for its near perfect cone, the volcano is about 210 miles southeast of Manila.

Mayon, one of the country's 22 active volcanos, last came to life in a series of eruptions in 2001, forcing the evacuation of about 50,000 people. It has erupted about 50 times since 1616.
Its most violent eruption, in 1814, killed more than 1,200 people and buried an entire town in mud. An eruption in 1993 killed 79 people.

The Philippines is in the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where volcanic activity and earthquakes are common. Bulusan volcano, about 31 miles south of Mayon, has ejected ash in about five minor eruptions since March.

In June 1991, Mount Pinatubo exploded in the northern Philippines in one of the world's biggest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century, killing about 800 people.

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