The Philippines’ chief volcanologist warned on Monday of a possible hazardous eruption at Mount Mayon “within weeks or even within days”, as magma continued to pile up at the summit of the Southeast Asian country’s most active volcano.
The 2,462-metre high volcano, a tourist attraction in central Albay province because of its near-perfect cone shape, spewed ash and burning mud and rocks over the past two days, forcing more than 3,000 residents to evacuate from nearby villages.
Volcanic earthquakes and rockfalls have shaken the summit of Mayon over the last 24 hours, after a number of steam-driven eruptions, scientists said.
More than 12,000 people have been ordered to leave a seven-kilometre (four-mile) evacuation zone, and there are warnings of destructive mudflows and toxic clouds.
“It is dangerous for families to stay in that radius and inhale ash,” Claudio Yucot, head of the region’s office of civil defence, told AFP.
“Because of continuous rains in past weeks, debris deposited in the slopes of Mayon could lead to lahar flows. If rain does not stop it could be hazardous.”
Mayon, renowned for its perfect cone, last erupted in 2014. It also erupted in 2013, killing four European mountain climbers and a Filipino guide.
Its most destructive eruption was in February 1841, when lava flows buried a town and killed 1,200 people. Minor eruptions were recorded in 1984, 1993, 2008, 2009 and 2010.