Thousands of people have been evacuated as the Mayon volcano in the Philippines erupts with lava.
Around 13,000 people have been evacuated in the Philippines’ north-east as the country’s most famous volcano, Mayon, continues to erupt with lava.
People riding vehicles and buffalo-drawn carriages fled to shelters within the “permanent danger zone” or six-kilometer radius.
Mayon, known for its “perfect” conical shape, began spouting lava last week.
However, evacuations did not begin until the weekend as volcanic activity increased and alerts were issued.
According to Teresito Bacolcol, the country’s senior volcanologist, more people may be evacuated if Mayon’s disturbance worsens in the coming days.
It is currently under the third highest level of alert in a five-tier system that predicts the possibility of a dangerous or explosive eruption. According to scientists, it is technically erupting, albeit slowly, with lava flowing from the crater.
Mayon, located in the farming peninsula of Bicol, is one of the country’s most active volcanoes. It has become increasingly agitated in recent weeks, with more tremors and rocks tumbling from its crater.
“There’s a danger of a fast-moving current of volcanic gases and rocks from the crater,” Bacolcol told local media. “It will be difficult to outrun those currents.”
In 1814, an eruption killed 1,200 individuals and buried an entire town. However, after recent eruptions in 2013 and 2018, the perimeter was declared off limits, resulting in fewer casualties.
Tourists have flocked to camp out on hilltops to view the volcanic spectacle as Mayon burned a bright red. Mayon, the world’s “most conical” volcano, is a popular tourist destination. Local officials have set up observation areas for thrill seekers to gaze at the shimmering crater.
“Last night, Mayon again put on a show as lava flowed from its crater,” said Eugene Escobar, a disaster response officer in the region, in a TV interview on Monday.
A French visitor, Philip Balselle, told ABS-CBN News that he was fortunate that his trip to the Philippines this year coincided with Mayon’s eruption. He joined approximately a dozen other tourists at a neighbouring town’s vantage point.
“It’s the first time in my life that I’m seeing Mayon, and there’s volcanic activity,” said Joseph Palasigue, a Filipino visitor from the capital Manila, which is about a half-day drive away.Mayon’s beauty has become part of Filipino folklore and popular culture. Daragang mayon, the native phrase for beautiful lady, inspired the name.
Catriona Gray, a Filipina beauty queen, won the 2018 Miss Universe pageant wearing a gown inspired by lava streaming down Mayon’s slopes. Her mother is from the province of Albay, which includes the volcano.
Mayon is one of the 24 active volcanoes in the Philippines. Taal and Kanlaon have also been placed on high alert in recent days for signs of unrest.
While previous eruptions have not directly resulted in many deaths, severe typhoons have in the past generated deadly volcanic mudflows.
Typhoon Durian washed volcanic material off Mayon’s slopes in 2006, burying towns and killing approximately 200 people. In 2020, volcanic mudslides caused by Super Typhoon Goni killed at least ten people.
A severe typhoon from the Pacific missed the Mayon area over the weekend.