Manila, Jun 12 (EFE).- Philippine authorities were monitoring the activity of the Mayon volcano on Monday after it spewed lava reaching 500 meters (1,640 feet) from its summit, thereby increasing the risk of a major eruption.
Around 13,000 people or 3,761 families have been evacuated from the vicinity of Mayon – the country’s most active volcano -, the emergency services of the northeastern Albay province where the volcano is located, said.
Tens of thousands of people are also bracing themselves for a massive evacuation if the situation worsens.
On Sunday night and early Monday, the volcano spewed rivers of lava that slowly descended down its slope, the Philippine seismology agency, Phivolcs, said in a statement.
“At approximately 7:47 PM of 11 June 2023, lava flow activity from the summit crater of Mayon Volcano commenced. The activity formed two lobes of lava that emplaced within 500 meters from the crater and shed lava debris on the Mi-Isi (south) and Bonga (southeastern), and Basud (eastern) Gullies that fell within 2 kilometers from the crater,” the agency said in its bulletin on Monday.
Phivolcs said that there were 260 rockfall events and 21 weak volcanic earthquakes during the past 24-hour period.
The alert level for Mayon is at 3, out of a maximum of 5, indicating that the volcano is “currently in a relatively high level of unrest as magma is at the crater and hazardous eruption is possible within weeks or even days,” according to the bulletin.
Police and soldiers are standing guard in the 6-kilometer danger zone around the volcano to prevent residents from returning to the area, local authorities told EFE on Monday.
The increase in sulfur dioxide emissions prompted the health ministry on Sunday to warn people to stay as far away as possible due to the health risks from inhaling the toxic gas and ash.
Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalian said on Monday that the authorities have distributed some 38,000 food boxes, or the equivalent of more than 15 days of provisions to the affected families.
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. EFE