Philippine volcano spews lava; thousands evacuated

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Philippine volcano spews lava; thousands evacuated
Mayon volcano spews ash into the air as seen from sleeping lion mountain in Legazpi City, Albay province, southeast of Manila on December 24, 2009, as it continues its mild eruption. The Philippines' most active volcano shot ash into the sky on December 23 as officials tried to bring Christmas cheers to tens of thousands of people fleeing a possible major eruption. AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
The view of Legazpi, City with the glowing crater of Mayon Volcano. cto/Nelson B. http://t.co/niCBF8sA6o
Volcano Mount Mayon spews a thick column of ash 500 metres (1,600 feet) into the air, as seen from the city of Legazpi, albay province, southeast of Manila on May 7, 2013. One of the Philippines' most active volcanoes spewed a giant cloud of ash on May 7, triggering a rescue effort after reports that a group of tourists was trapped climbing the peak. AFP PHOTO / Charism Sayat (Photo credit should read Charism SAYAT/AFP/Getty Images)
Beloved Mt. Mayon please harm no one! Keep safe my dear Albayanos! 😔🙏 http://t.co/Y8R7VnMueL
Red-hot lava cascades down the slopes of Mayon volcano, about 340 kilometers (212 miles) southeast of Manila, Philippines in its continuing "mild and quiet" eruption late evening Monday July 17, 2006. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, PHIVOLCS, said the silent, steady flow of lava and debris on the 2,474-meter (8,118-foot) mountain has reached 800 meters (2,624 feet) down the summit but accompanying tremors have eased down to more than 100 overnight but still not ruling out an explosive eruption. (AP Photo/ Bullit Marquez)
#Mayon #volcano in #Philippines this morning 12.000 people have been evacuated due to the high risk of #eruption http://t.co/xSxRJdZRdh
@pnppio @PNP_OTCDS Police Recruits of PRO5 busy repacking of relief goods for the Mayon Eruption evacuees. http://t.co/kIlziXEBQK
Red-hot lava pours down the slopes of Mayon volcano as seen from Legazpi city about 340 kilometers (212 miles) southeast of Manila, Philippines as it continues its "mild and quiet eruption" for the fifth straight day at dawn Wednesday July 19, 2006. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, PHIVOLCS warns that "explosions are still very possible and the probability of life-threatening pyroclastic flows resulting from explosive eruption remains high" from the 2,474-meter (8,118-foot) volcano. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
#Philippines' Mayon volcano shows signs of unrest; eruption there last year killed 5 people http://t.co/re2Xi3Ngm1 http://t.co/ebfYhAVJex
Red-hot lava pours down the slopes of Mayon volcano as seen from Legazpi city about 340 kilometers (212 miles) southeast of Manila, Philippines as it continues its "mild and quiet eruption" for the fifth straight day before dawn Wednesday July 19, 2006. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, PHIVOLCS, warns that "explosions are still very possible and the probability of life-threatening pyroclastic flows resulting from explosive eruption remains high" due to the steady flow of lava and debris on the 2,474-meter (8,118-foot) volcano. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
😱 Mayon Volcano Alert Level 3😱 Please pray for us🙏 http://t.co/iegC7PAjC8
Red-hot lava cascades down the slopes of Mayon volcano, about 340 kilometers (212 miles) southeast of Manila, Philippines in its continuing "mild and quiet" eruption late evening Monday July 17, 2006. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, PHIVOLCS, said the silent, steady flow of lava and debris on the 2,474-meter (8,118-foot) mountain has reached 800 meters (2,624 feet) down the summit but accompanying tremors have eased down to more than 100 overnight but still not ruling out an explosive eruption. (AP Photo/ Bullit Marquez)
miss yahh Mayon, hoping to see you this coming weekends. And i hope the weather permits. (i by: ©Jessant So) http://t.co/KSc0xObFp4
Red-hot lava pours down the slopes of Mayon volcano as seen from Legazpi city about 340 kilometers (212 miles) southeast of Manila, Philippines as it continues its "mild and quiet eruption" for the fifth straight day at dawn Wednesday July 19, 2006. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, PHIVOLCS, warns that "explosions are still very possible and the probability of life-threatening pyroclastic flows resulting from explosive eruption remains high" due to the steady flow of lava and debris on the 2,474-meter (8,118-foot) volcano. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Philippines, Luzon Island, Bicol Province. Cagsawa Church Belfrey Ruins and Mount Mayon (2462m). Near Perfect Volcano Cone with plume of smoke. This location is where 1200 people were buried alive in the 1814 eruption.
A white cloud of ash continues to spew from the mouth of Mount Mayon volcano in Albay province, about 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila, Philippines, on Saturday, May 14, 2005. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) continues to monitor Mayon volcano and two other active volcanoes in the country after showing signs of increased activity. Mayon is famous for its almost perfect cone shape. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
A Filipino farmer and his water buffalo work in a rice field Monday, June 25, 2001, under the smoking Mount Mayon Volcano which has been erupting for the last three days in Bonga, about 330 kilometers (200 miles) southeast of Manila. Villagers living near the volcano have been evacuated to the nearby town of Legaspi, but many have been returning during the day to work in their fields despite the danger. (AP Photo/Ed Wray)
Lava explodes from the Mount Mayon Volcano amid clouds of gas and ash in a fountain over 800 meters (270 feet) high late Sunday, June 24, 2001, in Legaspi, about 330 kilometers (200 miles) southeast of Manila. Mayon, erupted most of the day and evening sending kilometer high clouds of gas and ash into the air and forcing villagers from farms near the mountain to evacuate. (AP Photo/Nelson Salting)
Lava explodes from the Mount Mayon Volcano Sunday, June 24, 2001 in Legazpi, about 600 kilometers (360 miles) north of Manila. Mayon, which is one of the Philippines' most active volcanos has been spewing lava and ash and has been showing signs of seismic activity although local volcanologists have not yet raised the area volcano alert status to level five, the highest level.(AP Photo/Ed Wray)
Lava flows down the side of the Mount Mayon Volcano Saturday, June 23, 2001, in Legazpi, about 600 kilometers (360 miles) north of Manila. Mayon, which is one of the Philippines' most active volcanos has been spewing lava and ash and has been showing signs of seismic activity which local volcanologists say that the volcano could erupt soon. (AP Photo/Ed Wray)
Nicanor Mabao Jr. (C), one of the Filipino tour guides who survived after Mayon Volcano spewed a giant ash cloud and a hail of rocks, is helped by rescuers after he was rescued at the mountain in Legazpi city, Albay province, southeast of Manila on May 7, 2013. Three German tourists and their Filipino tour guide were crushed to death when one of the Philippines' most active volcanoes spewed a giant ash cloud and a hail of rocks on May 7, authorities said. AFP PHOTO/Jay-R Zuniga (Photo credit should read JAY-R ZUNIGA/AFP/Getty Images)
Mayon volcano spews ash into the air as seen from sleeping lion mountain in Legazpi City, Albay province, southeast of Manila on December 24, 2009, as it continues its mild eruption. The Philippines' most active volcano shot ash into the sky on December 23 as officials tried to bring Christmas cheers to tens of thousands of people fleeing a possible major eruption. AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
Mayon volcano spews ash into the air as seen from sleeping lion mountain in Legazpi City, Albay province, southeast of Manila early December 24, 2009, as it continues its mild eruption. The Philippines' most active volcano shot ash into the sky on December 23 as officials tried to bring Christmas cheers to tens of thousands of people fleeing a possible major eruption. AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
Policemen wearing masks check the identification of motorists along the highway to the town of Guinobatan in Albay province on December 22, 2009 as the Mayon volcano continues to spew ash into the air. Mount Mayon sprayed volcanic ash over a wide terrain on December 22, raising new health fears for thousands already braced for an eruption that Philippine scientists say could come any day. The nation's most active volcano rumbled and emitted clouds of choking soot that left a layer of ash on villages near Mayon, about 330 kilometres (200 miles) southeast of Manila, officials and witnesses said. AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
ALBAY, PHILIPPINES: Mount Mayon in Albay, Philippines spews vocanic ash clouds 03 February, 1993 following a major erruption a day earlier. The volcano, located 300 km (185 miles) southeast of Manila, errupted without warning 02 Feb leaving more than 50 people dead or missing. (Photo credit should read ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Mayon volcano, Philippines, true colour satellite image. Mayon (2462m), on Luzon island, is the most active volcano in the Philippines. Image taken on 23 November 1999 using LANDSAT data. Print size 30 x 30 cm., Mayon Volcano, Philippines, True Colour Satellite Image (Photo by Planet Observer/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
PHILIPPINES - AUGUST 14: Smoke rises from the flow of lava in Mabinit, a village in Legazpi City, Albay, the Philippines, on Monday, August 14, 2006. Volcanic quakes and ash explosions increased at Mount Mayon in the Philippines, suggesting an eruption is ``more likely,'' Agence-France Presse said, citing the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. (Photo by Rico Gonzales/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The Mayon Volcano - active volcano rising 2,462 metres, known as the most perfectly cone-shaped volcano.Location on Luzon island, Philippines
Legaspi, Luzon, Albay, Philippines, South-East Asia, Asia
Smoke billows from the peak of Mayon Volcano, near Legazpi City in the Philippines, 1950. (Photo by FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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By TERESA CEROJANO

MANILA, Philippines (AP) - The Philippines' most active volcano has belched out huge lava fragments that rolled about a kilometer (half a mile) down its slope, prompting authorities to evacuate thousands of villagers, officials said Tuesday.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alert level to "critical" for Mount Mayon in eastern Albay province late Monday, meaning an explosive eruption is possible within weeks. The level was raised after an escalation of restiveness was recorded overnight, including the ejection of glowing rocks from the summit and dozens of low-frequency volcanic earthquakes.

Molten lava has accumulated at the top of the 2,460-meter-high (8,070-foot-high) volcano's crater, creating a glow in the clear night sky Monday that sparked both awe and fear among spectators and villagers.

"Thousands have been evacuated since last night," Cedric Daep, a safety officer in Albay, said by phone.

Volcanologist Ed Laguerta said he saw huge glowing lava fragments and super-hot boulders rolling down from Mayon's crater for the first time late Monday, when thick clouds parted and revealed the volcano's summit. He said the fragments could be seen from as far as 12 kilometers (7 miles) away.

Mount Mayon, a popular tourist site known for its near-perfect cone, lies in coconut-producing Albay province, about 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila. On some clear nights, tourists can see the lava glow from the safety of their hotels in Albay's capital, Legazpi city.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda ordered the evacuation of up to 12,000 residents within an 8-kilometer (5-mile) radius of the volcano's crater. Villagers within 6 kilometers (4 miles) of the volcano, which the government has declared a permanent no-go danger zone, face mandatory evacuation.

Disaster-response officials convened an emergency meeting Tuesday to map out steps to avert casualties.

Mayor Herbie Aguas said his farming town of Santo Domingo, among the closest to the volcano, has a frightening legacy from Mayon. The volcano nearly wiped out the municipality's entire population in an 1897 eruption with its pyroclastic flows - superheated gas and volcanic debris that race down the slopes at high speeds, vaporizing everything in their path.

"We are praying that it would not be the worst-case scenario," Aguas said, adding that nearly 4,000 of the 40,000 residents in his town who live within a government-declared danger zone had started to evacuate to safer areas.

The volcano has erupted 50 times in the last 500 years, sometimes violently, endangering thousands of poor villagers who insist on living or farming in the government-declared permanent danger zone.

Villagers living near the volcano have erected huge white crosses at the entrance of their neighborhoods, hoping they will protect them from harm.

On May 7, 2013, the volcano suddenly spewed ash, killing five climbers, including three Germans, who ventured near the summit despite warnings of possible danger.

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Volcano in Philippines Showing Signs of Erupting

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