The Mayon Volcano is causing thousands to evacuate for safety reasons as eruptions are reported to be underway in the Philippines. A total of about 50,000 will have to be evacuated if the active volcano spews out an explosive Plinian eruption according to Renato Soldium of Phillippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs). Lava was reported to have already spilled over the crater, and authorities have suggested the volcano could erupt explosively in a matter of weeks. In fact, Phivolcs raised the alert level to three on a scale of five.
The Weather Channel (TWC) reported that Soldium had warned if the volcano emits an explosive eruption, or a Plinian type of eruption which causes pyroclastic flows and lahars, all sides of the volcano would be affected. The volcano has already spewed lava about a half a mile down its slope and an increase of small earthquakes have been reported around the area. TWC also reported that huge heated boulders have fallen down from the top of the volcano which is also hazardous to nearby residents.
To date, more than 36,000 have already been ordered to evacuate away from the volcano, and reports indicate that a total of 50,000 may be evacuated within the next few days. Government authorities have already declared the surrounding area a danger zone, as Mayon Volcano is known to erupt frequently. The volcano has erupted around 40 times over the last 400 years, with the last explosive eruption occurring in May 2013. The eruption killed four tourists and their local guide, who had been scaling Mayon Volcano at the time.
Manila Bulletin stated about 142 volcanic earthquakes have taken place between Sept. 17-19. Such activity has caused the alert level to rise to level three, indicating “relatively high unrest.” This level also indicates hot volcanic gases are being emitted into the air which is a concern for government officials in Manila, the capital of the Phillippines. Although not posing a direct threat to Manila, the volcano is only about 210 miles away from the capital and is known to attract tourists visiting the Philippines Islands.
Mayon Volcano eruptions are causing thousands to evacuate the Albay Province area where the volcano is located. The affected areas include the cities of Ligao, Tabaco, and Legazpi, according to ABS-CBN News. Other areas affected include the towns of Camalig, Sto. Domingo, Malilipot, Daraga, and Guniobatan. Albay Governor Joey Salceda was reported as saying these areas are in a declared “state of calamity.”
Classes held near the volcano have been suspended due to the falling boulders. Phivolcs estimated that about 277 incidents have been reported over the last few days with hot boulders falling from around the crater of the volcano down the slope. A “contingency plan” will take place for the misplaced students, and residents near the volcano may even face a three month period of relocation, reports had stated.
Winshell Sevilla of the Volcano Monitoring and Eruption Prediction Division of Phivolcs has said that more geologists are being sent to observe the dynamics of the volcano. Since the “summit lava dome is breaching the crater,” the situation appears to remain critical. With numerous boulders falling and the release of volcanic gas and lava, studies conducted by geologists will determine if an imminent and highly-explosive Plinian eruption will cause thousands more to evacuate the Mayon Volcano area within the next few days.
By Liz Pimentel