MANILA – More than 80,000 people have been evacuated so far as the Mayon volcano in eastern Philippines continues to be on hazardous eruption alert despite a reduction in its activity in recent hours, Philippine authorities said on Monday.
Mayon, which has been intensely active since Jan. 13 and in the past one week has erupted five to 10 times a day, has not erupted since late Sunday.
“It is difficult to evaluate if the volcano is going to continue with the current trend over the next few days,” Winchelle Sevilla of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology told EFE.
According to Sevilla, the risk of a powerful eruption over the next few days or weeks cannot be ruled out yet.
An exclusion zone within a radius of eight kilometers from the crater, including an area exposed to maximum danger within a radius of six kilometers, has also been established.
A total of 81,371 (21,000 families) local residents, who lived within the danger zone have been evacuated and relocated to temporary shelters in the region, according to Albay’s Office of Civil Defense.
Mayon, which has erupted six times in the last three decades, has stoked fears of a repeat of the tragic explosion of Mount Pinatubo – northwest of Manila – in 1991, the world’s second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century that left about 850 dead and displaced more than 1.3 million people.
However, PHIVOLCS experts have ruled out an eruption of the magnitude of Pinatubo.
The Philippines, which currently has 23 active volcanoes, is situated on the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire,” an area known for intense seismic activities, that extends from the west coast of the American continent to New Zealand, Japan and Indonesia, among other countries.