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Philippine volcano spews lava fountains, 56,000 people flee

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    Mayon volcano erupts for the second straight day Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 as seen from Legazpi city, Albay province, southeast of Manila, Philippines. The Philippines' most active volcano ejected a huge column of lava fragments, ash and smoke in another thunderous explosion at dawn Tuesday, sending thousands of villagers back to evacuation centers and prompting a warning that a violent eruption may be imminent. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

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    Mayon volcano spews red-hot lava in another eruption as seen from Legazpi city, Albay province, roughly 200 miles (340 kilometers) southeast of Manila, Philippines, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. Mayon has spewed fountains of red-hot lava and massive ash plumes anew in a dazzling but increasingly dangerous eruption that has sent 56,000 villagers fleeing to evacuation centers. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

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    Mayon volcano erupts for the second straight day as lava cascades down its slopes Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 as seen from Legazpi city, Albay province, around 340 kilometers (200 miles) southeast of Manila, Philippines. The Philippines' most active volcano ejected a huge column of lava fragments, ash and smoke in another thunderous explosion at dawn Tuesday, sending thousands of villagers back to evacuation centers and prompting a warning that a violent eruption may be imminent. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Published January 23. 2018 08:32AM

 

LEGAZPI, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines’ most active volcano spewed fountains of red-hot lava and massive ash plumes anew Tuesday in a dazzling but increasingly dangerous eruption that has sent more than 56,000 villagers fleeing to evacuation centers.

Lava fountains gushed up 2,300 feet above Mount Mayon’s crater and ash plumes rose up to 1.9 miles Monday night. At least three major blasts followed Tuesday, including an explosion at nightfall that was capped by one of the most massive lava displays since the volcano started acting up more than a week ago, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said.

“We couldn’t sleep last night because of the loud rumblings. It sounded like an airplane that’s about to land,” Quintin Velardo, a 59-year-old farmer, told The Associated Press at an evacuation center in Legazpi city where he took his wife, children and grandchildren on Tuesday.

Despite the danger, he said he needed to return to his village, about 5 miles from the erupting volcano, to take his cow and water buffalo to safety. A few minutes later, the volcano belched a massive column of grayish ash that punched through white clouds into the blue sky.

“There it goes again,” Velardo said, his family huddled near him.

Authorities warned a violent eruption may occur in hours or days, characterized by more rumblings and pyroclastic flows — superheated gas and volcanic debris that race down the slopes at high speeds, vaporizing everything in their path.

After Monday’s explosion, officials raised Mayon’s alert level to four on a scale of five, and the danger zone was expanded to 5 miles from the crater, requiring thousands more residents to be evacuated, including at least 12,000 who returned to their homes last week as Mayon’s rumblings temporarily eased and then scrambled back to the emergency shelters this week.

At least 56,217 people were taking shelter in 46 evacuation camps Tuesday and army troops and police were helping move more villagers from their homes, officials said.

Authorities struggled to prevent villagers from sneaking back to check on their homes and farms and to watch a popular cockfight in Albay’s Santo Domingo town despite the risks and police patrols and checkpoints.

 

 

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