Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Thieves could put people's lives in danger!

Manila: Thieves have cut phone lines to steal about 30 metres of copper wire around lava-spilling Mayon Volcano.

The theft has crippled the communications of volcanologists who warned yesterday that an explosive eruption could still occur.

"The copper wire may be worth a few hundred pesos, but it may spell the difference between life and death for residents near Mayon," said Ernesto Corpus from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

Other officials said the theft, discovered early yesterday, prevented them from transmitting observations and updates to Manila headquarters.

The 2,474 metre Mayon volcano came to life on July 14, spilling lava and red-hot boulders in a "mild and quiet" eruption. Volcanologists said yesterday the lava flow has now reached about 4km from the crater, triggering ground vibrations.

"The probability for an explosive eruption to occur is still fair," they said in a statement.

The government has declared a no-go area for a 6km zone around the crater, but several thousand still live and farm within the area and could not be forced out until there is a mandatory evacuation order.

Mayon, about 340km southeast of Manila, is one of the Philippines' 22 active volcanos. Its most violent eruption, in 1814, killed more than 1,200 people and buried a town in mud. A 1993 eruption killed 79 people.

The Philippines is in the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where volcanic activity and earthquakes are common.

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