MANILA – More than 77,000 people have been evacuated from the vicinity of the volcano Mayon in the eastern Philippines, authorities said on Friday.
A total of 77,270 people grouped into 20,053 family units have been forced to leave their homes and have been accommodated in 60 temporary shelters in the region, Rachel Ann Miranda, spokesperson for Albay province’s Office of Civil Defense, told EFE.
The evacuees are residents of several regions located inside the exclusion zone, which is set as a radius of 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the crater.
The four latest eruptions Friday of Mayon, located about 350 kilometers southeast of Manila, occurred between midnight and 2 pm, technical specialist Winchelle Sevilla of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) told EFE.
The eruptions generated columns of gas and ash. Rivers of lava emanating from the crater were more than 3 kilometers long and pyroclastic flows – currents of hot gas and volcanic rocks – have swept as far as 5 kilometers from the crater.
Authorities maintain the alert level at four – considering the possibility of a dangerous explosion in the next few hours or days – on a scale of five.
“We expect the lava eruptions to continue for the next few days,” Sevilla said although he admitted that it was impossible to predict whether the volcano would be more active or calmer in the coming days.
Mayon has erupted five times in the last three decades.
With 23 active volcanoes, the Philippine archipelago sits on an area of intense seismic activity within the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” which extends from the west coast of the Americas to New Zealand through Japan and Indonesia, among other countries.