x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Villagers flee as Philippines volcano begins spouting ash

Mountain 250km from country's capital threatens up to 250,000 people if eruptions grow worse.

Mount Bulusan volcano spews ash in Sorsogon province, eastern Philippines.
Mount Bulusan volcano spews ash in Sorsogon province, eastern Philippines.

Dozens of people fled their homes near a Philippine volcano today, while authorities advised pilots to avoid flying near clouds of fine ash shooting out from its crater.

More than 50 people fled two villages at the base of the 1,565-metre Mount Bulusan volcano and more may follow, the local Philippine army command said in a statement.

Soldiers and police would also be posted to keep people out of a six-kilometre zone around the crater and has trucks on standby to take evacuees to government-run shelters, it said.

Bulusan showered nearby communities with ash yesterday, with its explosions accompanied by booming sounds, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said in an advisory note, adding that it expects more explosions.

"Civic aviation authorities must advise pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano's summit as ejected ash and volcanic fragments from sudden explosions may pose hazard to aircraft," it said.

Bulusan, 250 kilometres southeast of the capital, Manila, on the main island of Luzon, is one of the country's 23 active volcanoes.

People living near streams and valleys in the area were warned that mudflows of volcanic ash could be triggered by heavy rainfall.

The local government said a quarter of a million people live in six towns around the volcano, and many of them could be at risk if the mild eruption increases in intensity.

Bulusan has erupted 16 times in recorded history, the last time in 2006. It began emitting ash again from November 6.