Mayon not a trigger for other Bicol volcanoes - geologist

Screenshot of Phivolcs video of pyroclastic density current on Mayon Volcano Tuesday morning January 16

More than 3,000 families have been evacuated to safety as the Philippines' most active and picturesque volcano showed signs if was priming for an eruption, volcanologists said Tuesday.

The Albay Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Council, for its part, ordered the towns of Camalig and Guinobatan, and Ligao City to suspend classes at all levels "in the event of moderate to heavy ashfall for health reasons" as Mayon Volcano remained restive Tuesday morning, January 16.

It reiterated that the activity signified a possible hazardous eruption within weeks or even days from the near perfectly cone-shaped volcano.

A volcanologist with the institute told CNN it will send two teams to the volcano to check the intensity of its activity.

Phivolcs said the advancing lava and pyroclastic flows had reached the six-kilometre radius no-go zone, from which some residents fled.

It warned residents to be vigilant against lava flows, lahars and sediment-laden streams along channels that flow from the crater.

On Monday night, lava was seen slowly flowing out of the Mayon Volcano's crater along with a 1,000-meter ash plume rising into the sky, Phivolcs said. Level 5 indicates an eruption is in progress.

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Heavy gunfire and artillery could be heard from the city center and Mitiga airport said all flights had been suspended until further notice, reports a state media.

Experts fear a major eruption could trigger pyroclastic flows - superheated gas and volcanic debris that race down the slopes at high speeds, incinerating or vaporizing everything in their path.

Camalig Mayor Ahrdail Baldo said residents were anxious that lava and lahar flow would hit local communities, especially if heavy rain persisted.

"In the first place, we have about 25,000 evacuees so we need to support the operations and we need to feed the evacuees, so we need to use the calamity fund", he said.

Ash fall was reported in Barangays Travesia, Muladbucad Grande, Maninila, Masarawag, Poblacion, Iraya, Ilawod, Calzada, Inamnan Grande, Inamnan Pequeño, Maguiron, Quitago and Mauraro in Guinobatan; Barangays Cabangan, Anoling, Sua, Tumpa, Quirangay, Gapo, Sumlang, Barangay 1 to 7 in Camalig town.

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.

Though the local government has prepared for evacuation, Baldo said "I'm anxious about food supply for evacuees if they will stay longer at evacuation centers, particularly if we run out of funds".

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