MANILA (5th UPDATE)—Mayon Volcano on Saturday afternoon spewed a smoke cloud reaching as high as 3 kilometers, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said, prompting the need to evacuate residents in nearby areas.
At 12:30 a.m. Sunday, the Phivolcs raised the alert level to No. 2, which means the origin of the unrest could be magmatic, leading possibly "to more phreatic eruptions or eventually to hazardous magmatic eruptions."
Civil aviation authorities are urged to advise pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano's summit as ash from any sudden eruption can be hazardous to aircraft.
Phivolcs director Renato Solidum told radio DZMM that the phreatic explosion, or steam build-up inside the volcano, occurred at 5:06 p.m. and is ongoing.
At 11 p.m., Solidum said rockfalls have been observed from Mayon.
"We’re recording rockfall events from the summit of the volcano that indicate that the initial activity this afternoon can be compared to a throat that has been clogged a little bit and the phreatic eruption has cleared it and we would like to evaluate what is happening. We are considering to raise the alert level if these rockfalls would continue," Solidum told ANC.
In an earlier advisory, Solidum told residents to be careful not to inhale volcanic air.
"Importante sa ating kababayan na mapigilan ang paglanghap ng pinong abo sa pamamagitan ng pagtakip ng kanilang ilong at bunganga ng basang panyo o di kaya mask," he said.
Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara told radio DZMM that he has ordered evacuation in more than 7 barangays, including those within the 6-kilometer permanent danger zone: Anoling, Camalig; Miisi, Daraga; Canaway and Calbayog, Malilipot; Buang and Magapo, Tabaco; and Baligang, Ligao.
Cedric Daep, action officer of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office, meanwhile said residents in the eastern area of Mayon and in the following barangays have also been ordered to evacuate: Quirangay, Sua; Tumpa, Camalig; Tinubran, Maninila, Tandarura in Guinobatan town; and Amtic, Ligao.
"At Alert level 1 or 2, even at Alert Level 0, we always reiterate that the permanent danger zone should be strictly observed. With the activities, the danger zone can be increased," Solidum said.
A video shot by Sam Nolasco shows a massive cloud of smoke envelope the volcano. --With reports from Karren Canon, ABS-CBN News
(Refresh this page for updates.)