Most active Philippine volcano spews lava, locals ready to evacuate in event of explosion

Evacuees carry their belongings as they arrive at a temporary relocation site at a school in Daraga town, Legaspi, Albay province, northeastern Philippines, Saturday, June 10, 2023. Monsoon rains that could be unleashed by an offshore typhoon were complicating worries of villagers threatened by restive Mayon volcano that has forced thousands of people to flee from their homes.(AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

DARAGA, Philippines — The Philippines’ most active volcano has begun spewing lava in a gentle eruption, putting thousands of people on heightened alert for the possibility of a violent explosion that would force them to suddenly evacuate from their homes, authorities said Monday.

More than 12,000 villagers have left their homes so far in mandatory evacuations from the mostly poor farming communities within a 6-kilometer (3.7-mile) radius of Mayon volcano’s crater in northeastern Albay province. Those evacuations began after the volcano begun showing signs of renewed restlessness last week.

Authorities cautioned that thousands more remain within the permanent danger zone below Mayon, which has long been declared off limits.

With the volcano beginning to expel lava Sunday night, the high-risk zone around Mayon may be expanded should the eruption turn violent, said Teresito Bacolcol, director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. Bacolcol said if that happens, people in any expanded danger zone should be prepared to evacuate to emergency shelters.

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