Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bulusan volcano, in the Phillippines spews out ashes!

A restive Philippine volcano shot ash and thick gray smoke four kilometers (2.5 miles) into the sky Sunday, drawing applause from tourists but renewing villagers' concerns, officials said.

Breaking three months of silence, 1,560-meter (5,149-foot) Mount Bulusan, one of the country's 22 active volcanos, belched ash and smoke for more than 20 minutes and rained ash on at least seven villages, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said.

Mayor Edwin Hamor of Casiguran town, at the base of the volcano, said visitors applauded and snapped pictures of the huge, mushroom-shaped ash plume that suddenly gushed out of Bulusan into a cloudless morning sky.

"It was very beautiful. Everybody was awed," Hamor told The Associated Press by telephone.
He said he rushed to a village hit by ashfall to help distribute masks to protect against lung ailments that could be caused by the volcanic ash.

He also ordered a village leader to turn away tourists from a resort if it could be hit by the ashfall.
Bulusan, about 390 kilometers (240 miles) southeast of Manila, came back to life in March and has been intermittently expelling ash and steam. It last spewed ash in January, according to volcanologists.

The latest activity may signal another bout of ash expulsions in the coming weeks, they said, adding that they would maintain the lowest alert level for the volcano despite its renewed unrest.
Villagers were warned against venturing into a four-kilometer (2.5-mile) "permanent danger zone" around the volcano.

The Philippine archipelago lies on the Pacific Ocean's "Ring of Fire," where volcanic activity and earthquakes are common.

In December, typhoon-triggered mudslides along the slopes of nearby Mayon volcano buried entire villages, killing more than 1,000 people.

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