MANILA, Philippines (AP) – A volcano southeast of the Philippine capital spewed ash and steam about a kilometer (half a mile) into the sky on Sunday in a brief steam-driven explosion, scattering ash in nearby villages and alarming residents , officials said. †
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alert level on Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon province after the 17-minute blast, but added there was no sign of an impending major eruption.
Bulusan, one of the country’s most active volcanoes, has shown signs of unrest in recent years with on-and-off ash and steam explosions.
“It is currently in an anomalous state,” the government’s Volcanology Institute said of Bulusan, asking people to stay away from a permanent danger zone of 4 kilometers (2.4 mi) around the volcano.
Ashfalls hit at least seven villages in and near the coastal town of Juban at the foot of Bulusan, where people were asked to stay indoors and wear masks. Motorists were advised to drive carefully on ash and mud-covered roads.
Officials said they were assessing whether to evacuate residents, especially pregnant women, the elderly and children, from ash-swept villages.
Outside the permanent danger zone, the Volcanology Institute warned people, including those living on the vulnerable southeastern side of the volcano, to remain vigilant “because of the increased possibilities of sudden and dangerous phreatic eruptions.”
Villagers living in valleys and along rivers and streams were warned to watch out for volcanic mudslides during the rainy season. Aircraft were advised not to fly near the volcano at Sorsogon, about 600 kilometers (373 miles) southeast of Manila.
The Philippine archipelago, which has about two dozen active volcanoes, is located on the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire,” where volcanic activity and earthquakes are common.
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