Philippines raises volcano alert again; hazardous eruption seen imminent

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines raised the alert level at its Mayon volcano on Monday after a loud explosion in the wake of increased activity made a hazardous eruption likelier, prompting authorities to close all schools and urge residents to stay indoors.

Mayon, the country's most active volcano, has been spewing ash, lava, and pyroclastic material since Jan. 13, displacing close to 40,000 residents in the central province of Albay.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised its alert on Mayon to level 4, signifying a hazardous eruption is imminent, from level 3, which warns that such an eruption could be "weeks or even days" away.

"We strongly advise all people, both residents and tourists, to avoid the danger zone, and airlines to avoid flying near the volcano summit," agency chief Renato Solidum told a news conference.

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Mayon volcano erupts
DARAGA, PHILIPPINES - JANUARY 21 : Lava flows from the crater of Mayon volcano in Daraga, Albay, Philippines on January 21, 2018. Thousands evacuate as Philippines' Mayon volcano started to spew lava and ash as Philippine Volcanology Institute describes the event as a quiet eruption. Alert level 3 has been issued by authorities and warned that the activity could lead to eruptions of magma (Photo by Jeoffrey Maitem/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - This photo taken on January 15, 2018 shows lava cascading the slopes of Mayon volcano as it erupts, as seen from Legazpi City in Albay province south of Manila. Spectacular lava 'fireworks' shooting from its crater are drawing tourists to the Philippines' most active volcano, authorities said as scientists warned of a potential dangerous eruption within days. / AFP PHOTO / CHARISM SAYAT (Photo credit should read CHARISM SAYAT/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Motorists travel on a highway as Mount Mayon shot up a giant mushroom-shaped cloud as it continues to erupt near Camalig town, near Legazpi City in Albay province, south of Manila on January 22, 2018. A giant mushroom-shaped cloud shot up from the Philippines' most active volcano on January 22, witnesses and officials said, darkening the skies and raining ash on surrounding communities where tens of thousands have fled an impending eruption. / AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A resident covers her face from ashfall after Mount Mayon shot up a giant mushroom-shaped cloud as it continues to erupt in Ligao town, near Legazpi City in Albay province, south of Manila on January 22, 2018. A giant mushroom-shaped cloud shot up from the Philippines' most active volcano on January 22, witnesses and officials said, darkening the skies and raining ash on surrounding communities where tens of thousands have fled an impending eruption. / AFP PHOTO / CHARISM SAYAT (Photo credit should read CHARISM SAYAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Lava from Mayon volcano is seen as it erupts in Legazpi on January 15, 2018. The Philippines raised the alert level for the country's most active volcano twice in 24 hours on January 14, meaning that a hazardous eruption is possible within days.

(CHARISM SAYAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Residents sleep at a temporary shelter after being evacuated from their homes due to Mayon volcano's eruption in Camalig town, Albay province, south of Manila on January 15, 2018. Thousands fled from their homes as lava oozed out of a rumbling Philippine volcano on January 15 in what volcanologists described as a 'quiet eruption', warning it could lead to a hazardous explosion within days. / AFP PHOTO / CHARISM SAYAT (Photo credit should read CHARISM SAYAT/AFP/Getty Images)
LEGAZPI, PHILIPPINES - JANUARY 17: Residents inside a mall view and take pictures of Mayon volcano as it spews ash and lava on January 17, 2018 in Legazpi, Albay, Philippines. Thousands evacuate as Philippines' Mayon volcano started to spew lava and ash as Philippine Volcanology Institute describes the event as a quiet eruption. Alert level 3 has been issued by authorities and warned that the activity could lead to eruptions of magma. (Photo by Jes Aznar/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Cloud-covered Mayon volcano spews ash as it erupts near the Philippine city of Legazpi in Albay province, early on January 16, 2018. Thousands fled from their homes as lava oozed out of a rumbling Philippine volcano on January 15 in what volcanologists described as a 'quiet eruption', warning it could lead to a hazardous explosion within days. / AFP PHOTO / CHARISM SAYAT (Photo credit should read CHARISM SAYAT/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Residents ride on the back of a truck as they are evacuated to a temporary shelter due to Mayon volcano's eruption in Camalig town, Albay province, south of Manila on January 15, 2018. Thousands fled from their homes as lava oozed out of a rumbling Philippine volcano on January 15 in what volcanologists described as a 'quiet eruption', warning it could lead to a hazardous explosion within days. / AFP PHOTO / CHARISM SAYAT (Photo credit should read CHARISM SAYAT/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents sleep at a temporary shelter after being evacuated from their homes due to Mayon volcano's eruption in Camalig town, Albay province, south of Manila on January 15, 2018. Thousands fled from their homes as lava oozed out of a rumbling Philippine volcano on January 15 in what volcanologists described as a 'quiet eruption', warning it could lead to a hazardous explosion within days. / AFP PHOTO / CHARISM SAYAT (Photo credit should read CHARISM SAYAT/AFP/Getty Images)
Cloud-covered Mayon volcano spews ash as it erupts near the Philippine city of Legazpi in Albay province, early on January 16, 2018. Thousands fled from their homes as lava oozed out of a rumbling Philippine volcano on January 15 in what volcanologists described as a 'quiet eruption', warning it could lead to a hazardous explosion within days. / AFP PHOTO / CHARISM SAYAT (Photo credit should read CHARISM SAYAT/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A giant mushroom-shaped cloud rises into the air from the Mayon volcano, seen from the highway in the town of Camalig, near Legazpi City in Albay province, south of Manila on January 22, 2018. The giant mushroom-shaped cloud shot up from the Philippines' most active volcano on January 22, witnesses and authorities said, darkening the skies and raining ash on communities where tens of thousands have fled an impending eruption. / AFP PHOTO / - (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - The glow (at top) of lava from the cloud-covered Mayon volcano as it erupts is pictured from the Philippine city of Legazpi in Albay province, early on January 15, 2018. The Philippines raised the alert level for the country's most active volcano twice in 24 hours on January 14, meaning that a hazardous eruption is possible within days. / AFP PHOTO / Simvale SAYAT (Photo credit should read SIMVALE SAYAT/AFP/Getty Images)
CAMALIG PHILIPPINES - JANUARY 17: Horses are seen as mount Mayon continues to spew lava in the background on January 18, 2018 in Camalig, Albay, Philippines. Thousands evacuate as Philippines' Mayon volcano started to spew lava and ash as Philippine Volcanology Institute describes the event as a quiet eruption. Alert level 3 has been issued by authorities and warned that there� a possibility that the explosions could turn (Photo by Jes Aznar/Getty Images)
The glow (at top) of lava from the cloud-covered Mayon volcano as it erupts is pictured from the Philippine city of Legazpi in Albay province, early on January 15, 2018. The Philippines raised the alert level for the country's most active volcano twice in 24 hours on January 14, meaning that a hazardous eruption is possible within days. / AFP PHOTO / Simvale SAYAT (Photo credit should read SIMVALE SAYAT/AFP/Getty Images)
A driver cleans ash from the windshield of his bus after Mount Mayon shot up a giant mushroom-shaped cloud as it continues to erupt in Ligao town, near Legazpi City in Albay province, south of Manila on January 22, 2018. A giant mushroom-shaped cloud shot up from the Philippines' most active volcano on January 22, witnesses and officials said, darkening the skies and raining ash on surrounding communities where tens of thousands have fled an impending eruption. / AFP PHOTO / CHARISM SAYAT (Photo credit should read CHARISM SAYAT/AFP/Getty Images)
Motorists drive along an ash-covered road after Mount Mayon shot up a giant mushroom-shaped cloud as it continues to erupt in Ligao town, near Legazpi City in Albay province, south of Manila on January 22, 2018. A giant mushroom-shaped cloud shot up from the Philippines' most active volcano on January 22, witnesses and officials said, darkening the skies and raining ash on surrounding communities where tens of thousands have fled an impending eruption. / AFP PHOTO / CHARISM SAYAT (Photo credit should read CHARISM SAYAT/AFP/Getty Images)
DARAGA, PHILIPPINES - JANUARY 21 : Lava flows from the crater of Mayon volcano in Daraga, Albay, Philippines on January 21, 2018. Thousands evacuate as Philippines' Mayon volcano started to spew lava and ash as Philippine Volcanology Institute describes the event as a quiet eruption. Alert level 3 has been issued by authorities and warned that the activity could lead to eruptions of magma (Photo by Jeoffrey Maitem/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CAMALIG, PHILIPPINES - JANUARY 17: Pyroclastic cloud is being spewed by lava emissions of Mayon volcano on January 17, 2018 in Camalig, Albay in the Philippines. Thousands evacuate as Philippines' Mayon volcano started to spew lava and ash as Philippine Volcanology Institute describes the event as a quiet eruption. Alert level 3 has been issued by authorities and warned that the activity could lead to eruptions of magma. (Photo by Jes Aznar/Getty Images)
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The danger zone around the 2,462-metre (8,077-foot) volcano has been expanded to a radius of 8 km (5 miles), he added.

Solidum said the agency had recorded increased seismic activity and "lava fountaining and a summit explosion" from Sunday night, indicating more explosions ahead, including a hazardous eruption.

A level 5 alert signifies a hazardous eruption is underway.

Albay province has run out of emergency funds and more people would be evacuated once government financial help arrived, said provincial governor Al Francis Bichara.

He ordered schools to suspend classes, amid ash fall warnings following the explosion at the volcano.

"In some areas...it's already zero visibility, especially along the foot of the volcano," he told CNN Philippines, adding that strong winds could carry ash to distant towns.

"(People) have to stay home and if they intend to get out of their houses, they have to wear masks," Bichara said.

(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Martin Petty and Clarence Fernandez)

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