The most active volcano in the Philippines’ let loose lava fragments that came nearly half a mile down its slope, spurring an evacuation of thousands of villages – officials reported Tuesday.
The alert level on the volcano has been raised to “critical” for Mount Mayon in the eastern Albay providence, citing that an explosive eruption is possible in just weeks. The evacuations have happened forcibly, and to any individuals that live within a 6 kilometer radius of the crater.
Residents that reside just slightly outside of that zone are also being urged to exit now, and not wait.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology have recorded a series of small earthquakes and rock falls, and that now magma could easily be seen at the craters surface.
They said in a statement issued on Monday that “Mayon is exhibiting relatively high unrest and that magma is at the crater and that hazardous eruption is possible within weeks.”
Even though there hadn’t yet been an explosion, the government’s chief volcano official reminded locals earlier that the volcano was already technically erupting.
Mayon’s most violent eruption came exactly 200 years ago, in 1814, and killed over 1,200 people. It devastated the area and reduced several towns to rubble, and ash.
Though nothing is absolutely certain at this juncture, the military has been called in to assist in the removing those that reside within the evacuation zone.
According to official reports, should an explosion occur, all sides of the volcano will be threatened, and that could impact as many as 50,000 people.
Mt Mayon though is one of the more active volcanos throughout recorded history. In fact, it has erupted, more than 40 times since records began. However, when it erupted just last year – four climbers, and their guide were killed by the eruption.
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The 8,070-foot crater created a glow in the perfectly clear skies Monday night, and created a buzz of both awe, and fear for those onlookers.
The area is home to many coconut and orchid farmers. Many of which are having a difficult time stepping away from their livelihood and creating concern that the ill-effects of a potential blast – would be harder felt than if evacuees simply heeded the warning.
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The area is also a heavily traveled tourist destination, however, the capital city where most of the tourist traffic remains is some 200 miles away. The activity on the mountain has even created a mini-boom in the local tourist industry.