Mayon activity still increasing

After a series of powerful explosions on 28 February, Mayon volcano in the Philippines became even more vigorous on 29 February, producing explosions which were described as stronger than the 1993 eruption (that event had killed some 70-80 people). The strongest of the explosions occurred on the afternoon (local time), sending an eruption column up to 14 km high, and generating pyroclastic flows that descended at least 6 km down the SE flank.
The explosions of 29 February caused heavy ash falls, mainly on the SW flank of the volcano, where the town of Guinobatan received several centimeters of ash and day was turned into night. More than one million people were left without electricity after power generators were covered with ash. The number of evacuees was given by various press reports as ranging from 55,000 to 83,000 - the latter number would indicate the most massive evacuation ever from the Mayon area (some 75,000 evacuated during the quite violent 1984 eruption). Some news reports indicated that up to three people died from the indirect effects of the eruption - two from heart attacks, and one man committed suicide because he believed the end of the world had come. These reports have to be taken with much caution, and so far no one has died by the direct effects of the eruption, mostly due to timely evacuation from the areas of highest risk.

Henry Gaudru
European Volcanological Society
International Commission on Mitigation of Volcanic Disasters.
C.P.1 - 1211 Geneva 17
Fax : 41.22.759.21.05
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