Recently, an explosion has occurred at the Philippines’ most active volcano, located in the province of Albay, sending a large plume of steam and ash into the sky. Authorities have heightened the alert level to four out of five, implying that a potentially deadly major eruption could be possible within days.
Mayon is also one of the tallest mountains in the country at 2,462m (8,077ft). It had been issuing pyroclastic material and lava since the volcano began showing activity on the 13th of January.
Nearly 40,000 residents who live nearby have been forced into evacuation in the central province of Albay, and authorities in the Philippine have closed schools and advised people to stay indoors where possible.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) heightened its alert on Mayon to level 4, implying that a hazardous eruption is possible, from level 3, which warns that such an eruption could likely be “weeks or even days” away.
In a news conference, Renato Solidum, the agency chief, stated: “We strongly advise all people, both residents and tourists, to avoid the danger zone, and airlines to avoid flying near the volcano summit.”
He added that the danger zone nearby the volcano had been extended to a radius of 8 km (5 miles).
Solidum said that from Sunday night, the agency had registered increased seismic activity and “lava fountaining and a summit explosion,” indicating that more explosions could be possible, which includes a hazardous eruption.
A level 5 alert implies that a hazardous eruption is underway.
The province of Albay has already run out of emergency funds, and more people would be evacuated once financial help from the government arrived, said Al Francis Bichara, the provincial governor of Albay.
Bichara ordered that schools should suspend classes, amid warnings of ash fall following the explosion at the volcano.
Solidum informed CNN Philippines: “In some areas…it’s already zero visibility, especially along the foot of the volcano,” adding that strong winds could send ash to distant towns.
“(People) have to stay home, and if they intend to get out of their houses, they have to wear masks,” Bichara said.