Philippine volcano spews ash and steam, alarming villagers

MANILA – A volcano southeast of the Philippine capital spewed ash and steam about a kilometer (half a mile) into the sky on Sunday, scattering ash over nearby villages and alarming residents, officials said .

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alert level at Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon province after the 17-minute blast, but added there were no signs of a major eruption imminent. .

No injuries were reported, officials said. Fourteen people with four guides were hiking a trail on the 1,565-meter (5,134-foot) volcano when it erupted around noon, but everyone reached a nearby town safely, they said. declared.

Villager Rica Tomale was hanging out her laundry when ashfall hit her coastal town of Juban near Bulusan, shrouding the sky in darkness. Two motorbikes slid on the ash-covered road but the drivers were unhurt, she said.

“I got scared and ran home, where we hastily put on our masks,” mother-of-two Tomale told The Associated Press by phone, adding that she was surprised. by the ash fall because she hadn’t heard the volcano erupt. .

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One of the country’s most active volcanoes, Bulusan has shown signs of unrest with intermittent ash and steam explosions in recent years.

“It is currently in an abnormal condition,” the government’s volcano institute said, and asked people to stay away from a permanent 4-kilometre (2.4-mile) danger zone around the volcano.

Ashfall affected at least seven villages in and near Juban at the foot of Bulusan where people were urged to stay indoors and wear masks. Motorists were urged to drive carefully.

Officials said they were assessing whether to evacuate residents, especially pregnant women, the elderly and children.

Outside the permanent danger zone, the institute warned people, including those living on the volcano’s vulnerable southeast side, to remain vigilant due to increased possibilities of sudden eruptions and mudslides during the rainy season. Aircraft have been advised not to fly near the volcano, which is about 600 kilometers (373 miles) southeast of Manila.

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The Philippine archipelago, which has about two dozen active volcanoes, sits on the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire,” where volcanic activity and earthquakes are common.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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