A volcano in the Philippines is showing signs of life and residents are getting worried an eruption may happen at any time. Between 9,000 and 12,000 inhabitants are fleeing the area as the Mayon volcano continues to throw clouds of ash into the air.
The volcano, sitting on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, recently started spewing steam, ash, and bright red lava. As a precaution, the volcanic action forced authorities to issue a level 3 eruption warning.
On Sunday, scientists with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) sent out a warning to indicate the volcano’s potential for eruption. After observing three small explosions triggered by steam and numerous rockslides, scientists fear a “hazardous eruption is possible within weeks or even days.” In a statement, PHIVOLCS said a giant dome is growing on the mountainside, signifying lava is on the move.
“Lava has flowed out of the volcano’s crater already, but it’s just starting. It’s a non-explosive eruption,” said PHIVOLCS scientist Renato Solidum, per a report from Fox News. “We have to verify tomorrow if it will flow continuously.”
Should the volcano blow, experts predict superheated gas and other debris capable of vaporizing everything will rapidly move down the mountainside, essentially destroying anything in its path. Massive amounts of ash will likely inundate adjacent towns and villages.
Local authorities told residents the time to leave is now. According to a CNN report, 900 families from multiple neighborhoods near the volcano in the Philippines were ordered to move to shelters in nearby towns. The government is also advising aircraft to avoid the area as ash can severely damage engines while in flight.
About 200 miles southeast of Manila, Mayon is considered one of the most active volcanoes on the planet. In the last 400 years, the volcano in the Philippines has erupted 47 times. An explosion in 1814 killed nearly 1,200 people.
More recently, the Philippine volcano erupted in 2014, forcing the evacuation of 63,000 residents. Another, more powerful eruption occurred a year earlier, killing four tourists and a tour guide.
Scientists with PHIVOLCS are continuing to monitor the volcano and looking at computer models to get a better idea when Mayon will eventually erupt. In the meantime, Philippine authorities are not taking any chances as the volcano is known for its unpredictable, destructive, and tragic history.