Mayon Volcano eruption: What you need to know

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 15) — Lava is slowly flowing out of the crater of Mayon Volcano as of Monday morning, authorities said.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) reported pyroclastic flow, which contains fragments, ash and volcanic gas.

Although the volcano is not yet "explosive," authorities are not discounting the possibility of an eruption.

PHIVOLCS raised the alert level over Mayon Volcano in Albay to level 3 on Sunday night, meaning there is an "increased tendency toward eruption."

Here are more details on what has been happening in Albay since the ashfall in communities near the volcano.

What's happening?

The volcano has been spewing ash since late Saturday afternoon, with ash plumes going as high as three kilometers, and rocks falling out of Mayon's mouth.

PHIVOLCS Director Renato Solidum said they have monitored two volcanic earthquakes since Sunday morning.

Three phreatic or steam-driven eruptions have been recorded as of Sunday, prompting residents to flee to safety.

How are residents affected?

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office said more than 4,300 residents within the volcano's 7-kilometer radius have evacuated and sought shelter in schools.

Albay resident Engr. Bert Recamunda told CNN Philippines on Monday, the military will force residents to leave should they refuse to evacuate.

The most affected areas are 10 barangays in Camalig, Guinobatan, and Malilipot in the province of Albay.

Class suspensions, flight cancellations

Classes from kinder to senior high school in all public and private schools in the province have been suspended starting Monday.

Solidum said residents have been asked to use face masks and damp cloths as protection from the ashfall.

"Meron naman kaming masks na ready. But then tumatama sa mata yung ashfalls nya eh... Ma-feel mo talaga na may ash na pag-inhale mo. Mapapaubo ka, mapapa-throat clearing ka," Recamunda added.

Philippine Airlines' flights to and from Legazpi, Albay have not been affected by Mayon's activities except for a few delays, PAL Corporate Communications Head Cielo Villaluna said.

"The only effect has been flight delays of Manila-Legazpi and Legazpi-Manila flights, ranging from 30 minutes to 1 hour," Villaluna said.

Meanwhile, two Cebu Pacific Air flights to and from Legazpi were cancelled.

  • 5J 321/322 Manila-Legazpi-Manila
  • 5J 323/324 Manila-Legazpi-Manila

Mayon Volcano alert levels

The volcano has been on Alert Level 3 since Sunday night.

If it hits Level 4, PHIVOLCS said it means hazardous eruption is imminent. Persistent and low frequency earthquakes are expected. The agency will also need to extend the Permanent Danger Zone to 8 kilometers.

A hazardous eruption would lead to a Level 5, which means pyroclastic flows, tall eruption columns, and extensive ashfall could happen.

When did Mayon Volcano last erupt?

PHIVOLCS had recorded 51 eruptions, as of 2017.

The most destructive one was on February 1, 1814, when volcanic materials buried the town of Cagsawa, located some 11 kilometers from Mayon, leaving 2,000 dead. Only the bell tower of the town church was left standing.

On August 7, 2006, Alert Level 4 was raised, where the Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) was extended to 8 kilometers. Although it did not result to deaths, four months later some 1,000 were killed when heavy rains brought by Typhoon Reming caused volcanic mud to flow.

On August 12, 2014, a 30-to-50-meter-high lava dome shot up from the summit's crater.

On September 2014, thousands were evacuated as Alert Level 3 was raised due to an escalation of unrest.

Mayon Volcano fast facts

Mayon Volcano is located in Albay province, over 300 kilometers southeast of Manila.

The majestic volcano stands 8,075 feet high.

Despite being an active volcano, Mayon remains one of the country's best sights because of its picturesque, symmetric near-perfect conical shape.