More Filipinos leave homes as volcano spills lava

December 18, 2009 By BULLIT MARQUEZ , Associated Press Writer
Lava continues to cascade further down the slopes of Mayon volcano as viewed in Legazpi city, Albay province, about 500 kilometers (300 miles) south of Manila, Philippines, before dawn Friday Dec. 18, 2009. Security forces will forcibly evacuate thousands of residents reluctant to leave their farms around the slopes of the country's most active volcano despite fears of a major eruption, officials said. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

(AP) -- Security forces in army trucks Friday sent about 3,000 residents outside the danger zone surrounding the smoldering Mayon volcano, which looked set for a major eruption after days of shooting ash plumes and spilling lava.

Authorities in central Albay province declared a round-the-clock ban on anyone being within the five-mile (eight-kilometer) zone around the 8,070-foot (2,460-meter) mountain, the most active of the country's 22 volcanoes.

More than 35,000 evacuees were given sleeping mats and food as they settled down in evacuation centers, mostly schools, where social workers were organizing Christmas parties and games to keep children busy, said provincial emergency management official Jukes Nunez.

Mayon shot two plumes of smoke early Friday, one reaching almost 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) into the clear blue sky. Lava continued to trickle down its steep slope, and two lava domes had formed from rising magma inside the crater, said chief state volcanologist Renato Solidum. He said the domes could grow bigger and plug the crater, leading to a gas explosion.

Scientists have raised a five-stage alert to two steps below a hazardous eruption, which they said is possible within weeks.

Solidum said cascading could trigger a pyroclastic flow - superheated gas and volcanic debris racing down the slopes at very high speed, vaporizing everything in its path.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said a provincial board had authorized police and soldiers to move out some 2,000 remaining families - or 10,000 people - from around two towns in Mayon's foothills.

Many had refused to leave their coconut and vegetable farms during the harvest time. Police will show them pictures of victims of a 1993 eruption that killed more than 70 people to persuade them to evacuate the area, he said.

Nunez said people were cooperating. "They know the danger. We have to enforce our objective of zero casualty," he said.

At the Bagumbayan Central School in Legazpi, the provincial capital, Guilly Anonuevo, a 75-year-old veteran of five evacuations, will spend Christmas for the first time in a shelter.

"We do not know where we will get our Christmas dinner. We have no money," she said. "It's all right to be sad as long as we are safe from Mayon's eruption."

Explore further: New fin seen in Mount St. Helens crater

0 shares

Related Stories

Indonesian volcano evacuation ordered

May 11, 2006

Indonesian officials have ordered the evacuation of about 17,000 residents of the island of Java as Mount Merapi spews more lava and poisonous smoke.

Scientist says volcanic eruption in Congo imminent

May 7, 2009

(AP) -- Scientists found evidence of intense volcanic activity - including tremors, pools of lava and plumes of smoke - at two volcanoes near a major city in eastern Congo, and said some residents had fled for fear of an ...

Scientists lower Alaska volcano threat level

July 1, 2009

(AP) -- Alaskans can put away their dust masks and spare air filters, for now, because Mount Redoubt seems to have cooled off since its last major eruption nearly three months ago.

Philippine volcano rumbles with fresh explosions

December 16, 2009

(AP) -- The Mayon volcano, which has blown its top nearly 40 times in 400 years, menaced nearby residents with small eruptions of ash and lava Wednesday as Philippine authorities moved more than 30,000 people to shelters ...

Recommended for you

New study sheds light on end of Snowball Earth period

August 24, 2015

The second ice age during the Cryogenian period was not followed by the sudden and chaotic melting-back of the ice as previously thought, but ended with regular advances and retreats of the ice, according to research published ...

Earth's mineralogy unique in the cosmos

August 26, 2015

New research from a team led by Carnegie's Robert Hazen predicts that Earth has more than 1,500 undiscovered minerals and that the exact mineral diversity of our planet is unique and could not be duplicated anywhere in the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.