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Mayon volcano belches red-hot emissions down it’s slope as seen from Legaspi, Albay province, northeastern Philippines Aaron Favila/PA Images
Mayon volcano

More than 12,000 people flee homes as lava spews down Philippines’ Mayon volcano

However, thousands more remain within the permanent danger zone below Mayon.

THE PHILIPPINES’ MOST active volcano has been spewing lava down its slopes, alerting tens of thousands of people they may have to quickly flee a violent and life-threatening eruption.

More than 12,600 people have left the mostly poor farming communities within a 3.7 mile radius of Mayon volcano’s crater in mandatory evacuations since volcanic activity increased last week.

But thousands more remain within the permanent danger zone below Mayon, an area long declared off-limits to people but where generations have lived and farmed because they have nowhere else to go.

With the volcano beginning to expel lava last night, the high-risk zone around Mayon may be expanded should the eruption turn violent, said Teresito Bacolcol, director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

Bacolcol said if that happens, people in any expanded danger zone should be prepared to evacuate to emergency shelters.

“What we are seeing now is an effusive eruption,” Bacolcol told The Associated Press. “We are looking at this on a day-to-day basis.”

From a distance, Associated Press journalists watched lava flow down the volcano’s southeastern gullies for hours last night.

People hurriedly stepped out of restaurants and bars in a seaside district of Legazpi, the capital of northeastern Albay province about 8.5 miles from Mayon.

Many of them took pictures of the volcano that is a popular tourist draw known for its picturesque conical shape.

Albay was placed under a state of emergency on Friday to allow for quicker distribution of any disaster relief funds in the event of a major eruption.

The volcano had been raised to alert level three on a five-step system on Thursday, warning that the volcano was in a state of high unrest and a hazardous eruption is possible in weeks or days.

With lava flowing down from the volcano gently, Bacolcol said the alert level would stay at three but it could be moved up higher if the eruption turns worse.

The highest alert, level five, would mean a violent and life-threatening eruption is underway with ash plumes shooting into the sky and superheated pyroclastic streams endangering more communities at Mayon’s lush foothills.

Mayon is one of 24 active volcanoes in the Philippines.

It last erupted violently in 2018, displacing tens of thousands of villagers. In 1814, Mayon’s eruption buried entire villages and reportedly killed more than 1,000 people.

Many of Albay’s people, however, have accepted the volcano’s sporadic fury as part of their lives.

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