The city of Legazpi witnessed a hazardous eruption of Mount Mayon in the northeastern Philippines as the lava began to flow down the 2,460-meter (8,070-foot) volcano after it spewed ashes and debris into nearby villages, causing the authorities to evacuate the villagers.
Dr. Renato Solidum of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) warned of an explosive eruption after the officials observed some activity in the solidified magma in the crater.
The institute reported the Mayon volcano spewed ashes in the air first on Jan 13. Two more ash explosions were recorded the next day, producing grayish steam and ash plume.
The PHIVOLCS have recorded three "phreatic eruptions" - steam-driven explosions – so far.
The evacuation of residents was announced before the second explosion, but it was after the third that the residents within the 6-kilometer Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) were transferred to a safer area.
Roughly 3,000 people, more than 900 families, were evacuated from the villages surrounding Mount Mayon and shifted to emergency shelter, according to the disaster-response officials.
The air that smelt like sulfur after the ash fall was dangerous and people were advised to cover their noses and mouths with a mask or a damp clean cloth.
"Lava has flowed out of the volcano's crater already but it's just starting. It's a non-explosive eruption," Solidum told The Associated Press. "We have to verify tomorrow if it will flow continuously."
Mount Mayon, which is quite popular among tourists because of its “perfect cone” shape, lays about 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila in the Albay province.
The volcano of Mount Mayon has reportedly erupted 50 times in the last 500 years.
The volcano previously erupted in 1814, killing more than 1,200 people and burying three towns under mud and rock. In 2009, 50,000 residents were evacuated from around its base because of a clogging of magma. In 2013, the volcano suddenly spewed ash and debris, killing five climbers – three of whom were Germans.
However, in that particular year, officials did not have people evacuated and instead poor villagers dug white crosses around the villages in hopes it could save them from the volcano’s wrath.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Romulo Quinto Ceneta via Reuters