Manila, June 16 (EFE).- Nearly 20,000 people have been evacuated from towns and villages near the Mayon volcano in the Philippines as experts brace for a drawn-out eruption, local officials reported on Friday.
According to the Philippine seismology agency, Phivolcs, Mayon ejected the largest volume of lava registered since June 8 late on Thursday.
Lava rivers have traveled more than a kilometer from the crater, while the volcano’s activity remained similar to previous days, with four earthquakes recorded in the last 24 hours, the agency said in its latest report.
Phivolcs, has maintained an alert level 3, the maximum level being 5, due to the risk of a larger eruption and the agency warned of the growing risk of landslides and ash and mud avalanches as lava continues to build up daily on the slopes of the Mayon.
So far, nearly 20,000 people have fled their homes within a six-kilometer radius of the volcano, an official told EFE.
But authorities fear evacuations could become chaotic should Phivolcs raise the alert to level 4, which would force the evacuation of civilians living within an eight kilometer radius, of which there are around 40,000.
The Philippine government is mulling the possibility of creating permanent evacuation centers in the province of Albay, where Mayon, the country’s most active volcano, is located, president Ferdinand Marcos Jr said at a press conference on Thursday.
Eruptions in 2018 and 2014 forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.
In the town of Camalig, which is just 11 kilometers from the volcano and where hundreds have been evacuated, local authorities told EFE that dozens of residents have volunteered to teach children after schools were shut due to the risk of eruption.
In the town with some 72,000 inhabitants, locals have also rallied to conduct clean-up operations and set up groups to coordinate tasks.
The regional Camalig government has also started offering jobs to families in need who have fled their nearby homes cleaning evacuation centers and in community kitchens.
Mayon is one of the main attractions of Albay due to its almost perfectly conical shape.
The last major eruption of the volcano occurred in 2018 when more than 75,000 people had to be evacuated.
Mayon’s most lethal eruption took place in 1841 when around 1,200 people died after they were buried by rivers of lava and falling volcanic rocks. EFE