Nearly 40,000 evacuate as Mount Mayon continues to erupt in Philippines

By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
January 19, 2018, 5:56:46 AM EST

Mount Mayon, the most active volcano in the Philippines, continued to erupt on Tuesday forcing nearly 40,000 people to evacuate, according to the Philippine National Risk Reduction and Management Council.

While the recent eruptions have been relatively weak, scientists warn that they could turn explosive at any time, according to the Associated Press.

A thick ash cloud around the volcano has made monitoring its eruptions difficult and also caused ash to settle on nearby villages.

Lava flows on Tuesday also forced police to set up checkpoints to keep tourists a safe distance from the volcano.

Philippines 1/15

Lava cascades down the slopes of Mayon volcano as seen from Legazpi city, Albay province, around 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila, Philippines, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Earl Recamunda)

While currently at a level three warning, an upgrade to level four would result in forced evacuations across a larger impact area.

Currently people are being advised to remain outside the danger zone of about 6 to 7 kilometers (3.7 to 4.3 miles) around Mayon.

In an attempt to keep local villagers from returning to their homes to check on farm animals, officials have planned to set up evacuation areas for animals, including water buffaloes, cows, pigs and poultry, according to Office of Civil Defense regional director Claudio Yucot.

Despite being a popular tourist attraction, Mount Mayon has erupted around 50 times in the past 500 years.

An eruption in 1814 killed 1,200 people and buried an entire town in a volcanic mudflow.

Philippines Weather Center
Interactive Philippines weather satellite
Detailed Legazpi City weather forecast

A larger scale eruption could result in more widespread evacuations and travel disruption as the volcano sits less than 16 km (10 miles) from Legazpi City, the capital of Albay province.

Daily showers and localized downpours are expected across the area into this weekend.

Any downpours will heighten the risk for flooding and mudflows around the volcano.

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