Philippine volcanologists say Mayon Volcano remains unstable

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Manila (dpa) - Government volcanologists said Monday earthquake activity at Mayon Volcano in the eastern Philippines continued at "higher-than-usual levels" and warned residents against venturing into the mountain's six-kilometre radius.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said it recorded 47 low-frequency type volcanic earthquakes over the weekend at the cone-shaped Mayon Volcano in Albay province, 330 kilometres southeast of Manila.

"Electronic tiltmetres deployed on the northern flank of the volcano indicates sustained inflation of the edifice," Philvolcs said in a statement, noting that this could be an indication of magma rise.

"Steaming activity was noted to be vigorous," the statement added. "However, thick clouds obscured most of the volcano over the weekend."

Philvolcs has prohibited mountaineers from trekking near the summit and residents from entering the six-kilometre permanent danger zone.

The agency has also warned residents near river channels that originate from the volcano to be alert against mud flows, which may occur during heavy rains.

Last February 24, Mayon erupted after months of intense activity. More than 50,000 people were displaced and millions of pesos worth of infrastructure and crops were destroyed by the mild eruption. No casualties were reported.

Phivolcs recorded five smoke and ash outburst before the eruption. The 2,462-metre cone-shape mountain is famous among local and foreign tourists for its perfectly symmetrical cone. Its deadliest eruption was in 1814 when it buried an entire town under ash and killed more than 1,300 people. dpa gl jg js

AP-NY-01-14-01 2259EST

Copyright (c) 2001 dpa Deutche Presse-Agentur GmbH
Received by NewsEDGE: 14/01/2001 23:06

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