Thousands in the central Philippines have been evacuated as scientists fear an impending volcano eruption that could lay waste to hundreds of miles around it. Mount Mayon has been showing signs of “relatively high unrest,” warn scientists, and a volcano eruption could be imminent, warns the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.
A growing lava dome and crater glow along with rock fall events and gas emissions have caused the seismologists to predict a volcano eruption for the mountain. The Jerusalem Post says that 12,000 people were evacuated from their homes and businesses in the coconut-growing region.
The Manila Standard Today says that magma has reached the crater for Mayon, making a volcano eruption imminent. They quote Renato Solidum, director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.
“A hazardous eruption is possible within weeks.”
The government is also fast-tracking plans to prepare to move even more villagers in the area should a volcano eruption at Mayon happen. Troops are enforcing a blockade perimeter around the volcano and evacuees are being housed in temporary shelters that are prepared to care for them for up to three months.
Mayon, about 300 kilometers south-east of the capital Manila, is the largest of the Philippines’ 22 active volcanoes. It has erupted nearly 50 times over the last 600 years. In 1814, more than 1,200 people were killed when lava flows buried the town of Cagsawa. In 2009, its last eruption, tens of thousands of villagers were displaced and last year, it spewed ash and rocks that killed four tourists and their guide.
When the government escalated the volcano eruption threat to a level three, Albay province governor Joey Salceda immediately began implementing plans for evacuation.
“What the alert level three did was to fast-track the preparation to evacuate 12,000 families in the 6.8-kilometre extended danger zone.”
A major eruption is not expected to impact the country’s agricultural output as most of the lands around the volcano that would be effecting in an eruption are owned by subsistence farmers. No major industry occupies the area that is likely to be affected by an eruption form the volcano.
Tourism, however, will likely improve if the volcano does have an eruption. The 2009 eruption of Mayon saw a spike in tourism as people flocked to see the volcano in action and its after-effects first hand.