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Philippine province declares ‘calamity’ as volcano lava spreads

Placing the province under a state of calamity will give the province access to extra funds.

FILE: Lava cascades down the slopes of Mayon volcano as it erupts, as seen from Legazpi City in Albay province south of Manila on 15 January 2018. Picture: AFP.

MANILA - A central Philippine province declared a state of calamity on Tuesday as a volcano spewed lava that reached the limits of a six-km radius no-go zone and spread ash on nearby farming villages.

Mount Mayon, a volcano in Albay province in the coconut-growing central Bicol region, has been erupting since Saturday and the number of people fleeing their homes had more than doubled on Tuesday to about 25,000, said Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council gave a smaller estimate, saying there were close to 22,000 evacuees.

Placing the province under a state of calamity will give the province access to extra funds.

“This kind of eruption, it will take about weeks, so we have to sustain the operations in the evacuation centres,” Bichara told ANC news channel. “We need to use the calamity funds.”

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said it had recorded nine more tremors, four of which accompanied lava fountains, as pressure leads to lava flows and ash plumes.

It reiterated that the activity signified a possible hazardous eruption within weeks or even days from the near perfectly cone-shaped volcano.

The provincial government has also expanded its suspension of school classes to more towns around the 2,462-metre volcano, about 340km southeast of Manila.

Class suspensions have allowed the government to use schools as temporary shelters.

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