Mayon in 'Quiet' Eruption

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Mayon in ‘Quiet’ Eruption

See the story in its original format at: ABS-CBN News Online
Authorities stockpiled food and prepared evacuation centers in Legazpi City Saturday, after lava began trickling down the slopes of Mayon Volcano in a "quiet eruption."

Low clouds were obscuring the sight of the almost-perfect cone on the 2,474-meter mountain, and officials said they won’t order any evacuations yet as they braced themselves for a possible violent eruption that may take weeks.

"A hazardous eruption is possible. We don’t know when, maybe within weeks," Renato Solidum, chief of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), said late Friday. "It is a quiet eruption as of now."

Authorities upgraded the alert level around the volcano to three, two notches below the highest level.

"Once the alert level goes to four, the danger zone will be extended to seven kilometers around Mayon," said Cedric Daep, a regional disaster-relief official in Albay province.

He said disaster-relief officials were stockpiling food and putting evacuation centers on standby to see "what needs to be repaired or added."

Eduardo Laguerta, the government’s resident volcanologist, said on Saturday that Mayon continued to push lava fragments down its northeastern slopes.

About 50 volcanic earthquakes also had been recorded over the past two days, he said.

The government maintains a six-kilometer "permanent danger zone" around the peak.

If the situation worsens the zone will be widened to eight km and 3,907 more families will be evacuated.

In the worst case, the danger zone will be extended to 10 km, which will require the evacuation of 8,479 more families.

Gov. Fernando Gonzalez of Albay said the municipal mayors will handle the evacuation.

Rico Azuris, 42, resident of Buyuan village in Legazpi, told The Manila Times that his family did not sleep Friday night, fearing Mayon might blow.

"We experienced at least two eruption episodes during the night," Azuris said.

Mayon, one of the country’s 22 active volcanos, last came to life in a series of eruptions in 2001, forcing the evacuation of about 50,000 people. It has erupted about 50 times since 1616.

Mayon’s most violent eruption, in 1814, killed more than 1,200 people and buried an entire town in volcanic mud. An eruption in 1993 killed 79 people.

Bulusan Volcano, about 50 kilometers south of Mayon, has ejected ash in about five minor explosions since March.

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Last modified: September 15, 2006