January 16, 2018 / 5:50 AM / 4 months ago

Philippine province declares 'calamity' as volcano lava spreads

MANILA (Reuters) - A central Philippine province declared a state of calamity on Tuesday as a volcano spewed lava that reached the limits of a six-km radius no-go zone and spread ash on nearby farming villages.

Mount Mayon, a volcano in Albay province in the coconut-growing central Bicol region, has been erupting since Saturday and the number of people fleeing their homes had more than doubled on Tuesday to about 25,000, said Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council gave a smaller estimate, saying there were close to 22,000 evacuees.

Placing the province under a state of calamity will give the province access to extra funds.

“This kind of eruption, it will take about weeks, so we have to sustain the operations in the evacuation centers,” Bichara told ANC news channel. “We need to use the calamity funds.”

Clouds partially cover Mayon volcano's crater as it spews a column of ash during another mild eruption in Legazpi City, Albay province, south of Manila, Philippines January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said it had recorded nine more tremors, four of which accompanied lava fountains, as pressure leads to lava flows and ash plumes.

It reiterated that the activity signified a possible hazardous eruption within weeks or even days from the near perfectly cone-shaped volcano.

The provincial government has also expanded its suspension of school classes to more towns around the 2,462-metre (8,077-foot) volcano, about 340 km (210 miles) southeast of Manila.

The Mayon volcano spews a column of ash during another mild eruption in Legazpi City, Albay province, south of Manila, Philippines January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

Class suspensions have allowed the government to use schools as temporary shelters.

Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Martin Petty and Nick Macfie

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