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Philippines volcano starts spewing lava, prompts evacuations

One of the world’s most active volcanoes is threatening to erupt in the Philippines on the island of Luzon. Mount Mayon began showing signs of awakening over the weekend, prompting the evacuation of thousands of people.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) has elevated the volcano alert to level 3. With lava spilling down the side of the mountain and thick clouds of ash shooting into the sky, the experts continue to monitor the strength and potential danger of the event.

Chief volcanologist Renato Solidum described the current activity of Mount Mayon as a “non-explosive magmatic eruption.” Solidum explained that volcanic activity over the next few hours will determine whether the alert will be upgraded to a level 4, which would significantly expand the danger zone.

Solidum said that three steam-driven eruptions may have dislodged solidified lava, allowing lava to start gushing out. He told the Associated Press, “Lava has flowed out of the volcano’s crater already, but it’s just starting. It’s a non-explosive eruption. We have to verify tomorrow if it will flow continuously.”

PHIVOLCS warned on Sunday that the bright glow in the crater signifies the growth of a new lava dome, and that “the evacuation zone should be enforced due to the dangers of falling rocks, landslides or a collapse of the dome.”

Mount Mayon is located along the Ring of Fire, a volatile region of the Pacific Ocean basin which contains 75 percent of the world’s volcanoes and has hosted over 80 percent of the worst earthquakes in history.

Mayon has erupted 47 times over the last 500 years. According to PHIVOLCS, the next explosive eruption could occur “within weeks or even days.”

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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