Thick ashfall halts work and flights in Philippines

Thick ashfall halts work and flights in Philippines
Residents watch as Mayon volcano spews ash anew during its eruption for the second straight day on Tuesday, as seen from Legazpi city, Albay province, Manila.

Manila - The danger zone around the 2,462-metre volcano has been expanded to a radius of 9 kilometres.

By Reuters, AFP

Published: Tue 23 Jan 2018, 9:51 PM

Last updated: Tue 23 Jan 2018, 11:56 PM

A central Philippine province suspended work on Tuesday in public and private offices in at least three towns as a heavy fall of ash hit urban areas, amid the continued eruption of the country's most active volcano.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said it shut down the Legazpi airport in Albay province because of ashfall, affecting nine international and 16 domestic flights.
The Mayon volcano has been placed just one notch below the highest alert level of 5 since Monday, when it spewed more lava, ash and a mixture of gases, rock debris and water that scientists call "pyroclastic density currents".
Al Francis Bichara, Albay's governor and chairman of its disaster agency, said he had suspended office work in three town due to the thick ashfall.
The danger zone around the 2,462-metre volcano has been expanded to a radius of 9 kilometres.
Bichara said about 40,000 residents have sought temporary shelter in evacuation centres.
"Some people outside the danger zone are afraid, so we also have to accommodate them," he added.
The volcano, which draws many tourists, last erupted in 2014.
"People got scared. The kids did not understand what was happening, then suddenly it got dark and you could not see who you were with," Danny Garcia, a spokesman for Albay province, said.
The summit of the mountain was shrouded by a dense column of steam and hot rocks, creating fanciful shapes in the sky.
"The explosion looks like a cauliflower or an octopus," Ed Laguerta, Mayon's resident volcanologist from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs),said.
"Hot ash ascends and since the volcano is conical, the pyroclastic flow seems to be the tentacles," he added, referring to a mix of hot lava, ash and volcanic gas flowing down the volcano's flanks.
Mayon, a near-perfect cone located about 330 kilometres southeast of Manila, is considered the most volatile of the Philippines' 22 active volcanoes.
Volcanologists on Monday warned of a hazardous eruption within days as Mayon rained ash on communities two weeks after it began showing signs of unrest.
"Not all towns will be affected at the same time so people cannot be complacent," Laguerta said. There have been 51 previous eruptions by Mayon in recorded history, the last one in 2014. In 1814 it buried the town of Cagsawa, killing more than 1,000 people.

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