Sunday, July 23, 2006

Mayon's lava changes its course, threatening other towns

Manila: Lava flow from the restive Mayon Volcano in the southern Luzon Albay has widened its course to another channel, threatening to inundate more towns during an impending major eruption, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.

Mayon's lava has advanced towards the Mabinit Channel, a northeast side of the volcano, Phivolcs said.

Lava deposits in the Mabinit Channel could slide down the mountain in the form of lahar that could threaten the towns of Malilipot and Tabaco, said Phivolcs.


Although smaller trickles of lava flow could still be seen along the Bonga Gully, a large deposit of lava flow on the endangered area could be the source of a major volcanic debris during a major eruption, Phivolcs explained.

Last week, lava flow from Bonga Gully, located on Mayon's southeast side, had landed about 1,000 metre from the volcano's top part.

The diversion of Mayon's lava flow means more areas will be endangered in the permanent six-kilometre danger zone, Phivolcs said, adding that local government officials are thinking of increasing the danger zone to eight kilometres from the top of the restive volcano.

Local government units included additional towns that were on the danger list. Residents in the said areas were told to pack up and leave for the evacuation centres in preparation for a major eruption.

Apart from lava flows, Mayon has emitted sulphur dioxide and has generated pyroclastic flows that produced ash columns for several days.

Seismic networks have detected tremors from the depths of the mountain.

The 2.4-km volcano has a perfect cone and its colourful lava flow has remained a tourist attraction where it can be seen from many provinces in the Bicol region. Mayon is part of the Bicol region's volcanic belt.

The Philippines is part of the Pacific's Ring of Fire where volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are common occurrences.

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