Alert Level Raised to 2 After Filipino Volcano Mayon Spews Steam

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"We have not reached the critical level", said the head of the Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, Cedric Daep, as cited by Reuters.

Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum Jr said the phreatic eruption is ongoing and the plume height of an estimated three kilometers and direction is bent towards southwest directions of the province of Albay due to strong winds. "Faint crater glow has been first observed at 10:16 p.m.", PHIVOLCS said.

The institute said dust fell on several villages in the surrounding towns.

The volcano, known for its near-perfect cone shape, is on the lowest alert level despite a "phreatic or steam-driven eruption", meaning people are not allowed to stay within a six-kilometre "permanent danger zone", Phivolcs said.

Phivolcs raised the alert level around the volcano following the series of phreatic eruptions, saying the volcano continues to exhibit signs of "increasing unrest" that could trigger more ash falls, rockfalls and landslides.

Based on seismic records the activity started around 4:21 PM of January 13, 2018 and lasted approximately 1 hour and 47 minutes.

It also warned pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano's summit as ash from the sudden eruption can be hazardous to aircraft.

A motorised tricycle speeding past the Mayon volcano
A motorised tricycle speeding past the Mayon volcano

Photo of Mayon Volcano covered with thick clouds on the right side and grayish ashes at the left side.

Prior to this phreatic eruption, Mayon's edifice has undergone inflationary changes or a slight swelling of the edifice as indicated by ground deformation data recorded by continuous Global Positioning System and tilt since October and November 2017, respectively.

Alert Level 2 remained in place as of Sunday, according to Phivolcs.

"The Phivolcs can not say how long the evacuees should stay in the evacuation centers because it might take weeks and it [decision] will always depend on the activity of Mayon Volcano", she added.

The authorities have warned people off a six-km radius around the volcano, and have issued a level 2 alert as concern grew over the possibility of stronger and more unsafe eruptions.

"Suspension of classes will take effect tomorrow (Monday) until lifted in all public and private schools situated in identified barangays where classrooms are being used by Mayon evacuees in order to give these schools ample time to organize [a] special scheme of classes", he said.

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