Philippines beefs up troops around restive volcano

LEGASPI, Philippines Mon Dec 21, 2009 4:49pm IST

The crater of the Mayon volcano glows as lava cascades down its slopes, in Legazpi city, 500 km (310 miles) south of Manila December 19, 2009. REUTERS/Erik de Castro

The crater of the Mayon volcano glows as lava cascades down its slopes, in Legazpi city, 500 km (310 miles) south of Manila December 19, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Erik de Castro

Related Topics

LEGASPI, Philippines (Reuters) - The Philippines sent more troops to impose an expanded no-go zone around the country's most active volcano as it neared a hazardous and possibly explosive eruption, officials said on Monday.

Mayon Volcano, known for its near-perfect cone shape in the coconut-growing central Bicol region, has been spewing ash and burning mud and rocks for about a week, the state vulcanology agency said.

Authorities raised the alert level to 4 on Sunday after Mayon showed increased volcanic activity. Rumbling sounds were growing louder, nearly 2,000 volcanic quakes were recorded and lava fountains shot debris as high as 200 metres (650 feet).

Level 4 indicates an eruption is imminent and the maximum alert level of 5 means an eruption is underway.

Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from the slopes of the volcano, with the help of the army.

"We doubled our strength. We added more troops," Captain Razaleigh Bansawan, army spokesman in the Bicol region, told reporters. "What we are doing is that we are intensifying our checkpoint operations along the 9-11 km (5-6 mile) danger zone."

Bansawan said the security measures were designed to prevent casualties in case of a major eruption which was expected to occur within days. Troops were imposing a 24-hour curfew in the no-go zone and moving people at the volcano's base to safety.

Nearly 50,000 people had been evacuated to temporary shelter areas in eight cities and towns in Albay province, where Mayon is located.

Food and water stations have been set up. Face masks have also been distributed to lessen the impact of ash particles in the air.

Local authorities appealed for more portable toilets, other sanitation facilities and potable water to prevent outbreak of disease.

The Philippines lies on the "Ring of Fire", a belt of volcanos circling the Pacific Ocean that is also prone to earthquakes.

Mayon is the most active of 22 volcanoes in the country, having erupted more than 50 times in the past four centuries. The most destructive eruption was in February 1841, when lava flows buried a town and killed 1,200 people.

The last time Mayon erupted was in 2006.

(Reporting by Manny Mogato; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Sugita Katyal)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Pro-Democracy Protests

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Ebola in U.S.

Ebola in U.S.

Dallas Ebola patient vomited outside apartment on way to hospital  Full Article 

Fighting Islamic State

Fighting Islamic State

Turkey vows to fight Islamic State, coalition strikes near border.  Full Article 

'Ground Zero'

'Ground Zero'

Concerns, questions as Dallas becomes 'ground zero' for Ebola in U.S.  Full Article 

Security Lapse

Security Lapse

U.S. Secret Service director resigns under fire  Full Article 

Road Offences

Road Offences

France's Le Pen loses driving licence, but says not her fault.  Full Article 

Nuclear Deal

Nuclear Deal

Israel's Netanyahu to Obama: Don't allow Iran deal that leaves it at nuclear threshold.  Full Article 

Germany Politics

Germany Politics

German defence crisis puts potential Merkel successor in hot seat .  Full Article 

Peace Conference

Peace Conference

Nobel Laureates condemn South Africa visa denial to Dalai Lama.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage