Villages ordered evacuated after Mayon spews ash

Lava from the Mayon volcano erupts in Legazpi the Philippines

Civil aviation authorities must also advise pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano's summit as ash from any sudden eruption can be hazardous to aircraft.

Since Saturday's first eruption, Phivolcs said it had recorded 158 rockfall events and urged people to stay away from a 6-kilometre (3.7 mile) radius Permanent Danger Zone and a 7-km Expanded Danger Zone on the volcano's southern flank.

The incident prompted Phivolcs to raise the alert level on Mayon from Level 1 (abnormal) to Level 2 (ncreasing unrest).

Mayon Volcano in Albay Province generated a phreatic eruption (steam-driven) that propelled a grayish steam and ash plume approximately 2500 m high that was drifted to the southwest.

Phivolcs had earlier raised the alert to "level 2", saying the activity was "probably of magmatic origin, which could lead to more phreatic eruptions or eventually to hazardous magmatic eruptions". The volcano is more than 300km south-east of the Philippine capital of Manila.

Saturday's eruption unleashed ash, rocks and sulfuric odor, and was followed by rumbling sounds and a faint glow in the crater, according to Phivolcs.

Given the increasing danger, officials have recommended that a "danger zone" of a 7km radius be enforced "due to the danger of rockfalls, landslides and sudden explosions or dome collapses that may generate hazardous volcanic flows". Traces of ash fell on Barangays Anoling, Sua, Quirangay, Tumpa, Ilawod and Salugan of Camalig and in Barangays Tandarora, Maninila and Travesia in Guinobatan.

It also advised people experiencing ashfall to cover their noses and mouths with a damp, clean cloth or dust mask.

But the same records showed that Mayon's most destructive eruption occurred in February 1841 that practically buried a town and killed more than 1,200 people.

Alert level three indicates a "critical" threat, four indicates an imminent eruption, and five indicates an eruption in-progress, Cedric Daep, head of the Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, told Reuters. Meanwhile, thousands of residents of an island near a Papua New Guinea volcano have been evacuated after escalating eruptions sparked fears of a possible landslide and tsunami, authorities and reports said on Sunday.

Experts say it has been displaying abnormal behaviour since late past year.

"We have not reached the critical level", he said in a radio interview.

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