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Thousands Evacuate Due to Volcano in Philippines

Officials urged tens of thousands of people to flee the area surrounding the Mayon Volcano after it began spewing lava on Monday. 

Mandatory evacuations within the seven-kilometer radius surrounding the active crater were conducted since volcanic activity increased last week. The Mayon Volcano was placed on a high alert level after hundreds of rockfall events and several seismic triggers, causing the eventual lava to begin pouring from the open crater. 

"What we are seeing now is an effusive eruption," Teresito Bacolcol, director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, told The Associated Press. "We are looking at this on a day-to-day basis."

At least 14,000 people left their homes in the poor farming community. Schools and community centers have been converted into shelters. Local shelters are in need of food and water to help those displaced by the recent volcanic activity.

“It’s not only people that should be brought to safety but their farm animals too,” Albay provincial veterinarian Manny Victorino told The Associated Press

The volcano, located on the main island of Luzon in the southeast Asian country, is the tallest and most active volcano in the Philippines. It is 2,462 meters high. The last time the Mayon Volcano erupted was in 2018, causing approximately 23,000 people to flee their homes in nine different cities and municipalities. 

"We will make sure evacuees cannot return until they are advised to do so," police regional director Westrimundo Obinque told Reuters reporters.

The governor of the Albay province, Edcel Greco Lagman, increased the evacuation zone from six to seven kilometers on Monday after the gentle eruptions persisted. The area within the seven-kilometer radius is strictly off-limits.

Since Sunday, Baracol and the Institute have recorded 21 volcanic earthquakes, at least 260 rockfall events, and three fast-moving pyroclastic flows of rock fragments, gas, and ash. The Institute is also closely monitoring two other volcanoes located in the Ring of Fire, the Taal volcano in Batangas province, 66 km south of Manila, and Kanlaon volcano in the central Philippines.

"Lava is being poured out from the vent. It's slow-moving. It can be observed as rivers of molten lava," Bacolcol told local media on Monday. 

Located in the Albay province, the Mayon Volcano is what the area is most known for. 

It is a popular tourist attraction, drawing many onlookers due to its near-perfect conical shape and volcanic activity. Being located in the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an area known for frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, events like this are common. While unsafe levels of volcanic activity continue, tourism to the region will be disrupted. This will impact the small farming community’s economy. 

"Based on our previous experiences, this volcanic activity may persist for a few months," Teresito Bacolcol, chief of the state volcanology and seismology agency, told DZMM radio

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