Philippines widens evacuation area as lava spreads around restive volcano

MANILA, Jan 15 (Reuters) - The Philippines ordered the forced evacuation of people from two more municipalities near a restive volcano on Monday as the chief volcanologist warned of a possible hazardous eruption "within weeks or even within days."

More than 12,000 residents have already fled to evacuation centers after the 2,462-meter (8,077-foot) Mayon volcano, in central Albay province, began spewing ash on Saturday and unleashed burning mud and rocks on Sunday.

"There is an ongoing forced evacuation from the municipalities of Daraga and Legazpi because of the lava flow," Romina Marasigan, spokeswoman for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, told reporters.

"The lava flow has reached some areas around three kilometers away from the volcano."

Mayon, a tourist attraction because of its near-perfect cone shape, showed a bright crater glow on Sunday, signifying lava had started to flow from the crater.

RELATED: Mount Mayon

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Mount Mayon
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Mount Mayon
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
#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
#Philippines' Mayon volcano shows signs of unrest; eruption there last year killed 5 people http://t.co/re2Xi3Ngm1 http://t.co/ebfYhAVJex
😱 Mayon Volcano Alert Level 3😱 Please pray for us🙏 http://t.co/iegC7PAjC8
miss yahh Mayon, hoping to see you this coming weekends. And i hope the weather permits. (i by: ©Jessant So) http://t.co/KSc0xObFp4
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.
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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Manila's airport authorities said Cebu Pacific had canceled flights to nearby Legazpi City for a second day on Monday, citing bad weather.

Philippine Airlines said it had not canceled any flights to and from Legazpi, but there were some delays.

Mayon's most destructive eruption was in February 1841, when lava buried a town and killed 1,200 people. It last erupted in 2014, spewing lava and forcing thousands of people to evacuate.

The Philippines raised the volcano alert to level 3, which indicates increased volcanic activity toward a hazardous eruption, late on Sunday.

Level 5 indicates an eruption is in progress.

People have been advised to stay away from a 6-km (4-mile) radius Permanent Danger Zone and a 7-km Expanded Danger Zone on the volcano's southern flank.

(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Additional reporting by Manuel Mogato and Karen Lema; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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