Philippines

Mayon Volcano in eastern Philippines quiets down

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Manila (dpa) - Government scientists on Thursday lowered the alert level around Mayon volcano in the eastern Philippines and declared that the threat of another hazardous eruption has ceased after a two-week lull.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said the current activity of Mayon in Albay province, 330 kilometres southeast of Manila, "reflects non-eruptive conditions".

In announcing the lowering of the alert around Mayon from the highest level of 5 to 4, Philvolcs said there were already "trends showing the beginning of a decline in activity" since it erupted on July 26.

The agency said it observed a deflation of the volcano's edifice and less volcanic tremors in the past 24 hours.

While sulphuric gas emissions and crater glow was still relatively high, Phivolcs noted that the two parameters were "part of the deplation process".

"Phivolcs is lowering the alert status of the volcano from alert level 5 to alert level 4 to reflect declining trends and the cessation of hazardous explosive eruption," it said,

Despite the lowered alert level, Phivolcs urged residents to stay out of a 6-kilometre permanent danger zone due to the possibility of sudden explosions.

"The public should be reminded that alert level 4 still means that explosions can still be expected and that a reactivation, due to sudden influx of gas-rich magma from depth, may still drive an explosive eruption in the coming days," it said.

Regional disaster relief officials said thousands of people who fled the volcano's eruption on July 26 have already returned to their homes as early as last week but more than 25,000 evacuees remain in 12 evacuation centres.

"With the lowering of the alert level, we expect more people to return to their homes," said Jason Aragon, a regional disaster relief officer.

The 2,462-metre volcano is famous among tourists for its perfectly symmetrical cone. Its deadliest eruption was in 1814 when it buried an entire town under ash and other volcanic debris, killing more than 1,300 people.

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Copyright (c) 2001 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 08/09/2001 00:33:54

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