Philippine province halts work, flights amid heavy volcanic ashfall

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said it shut down the Legazpi airport in Albay province because of ashfall, affecting nine international and 16 domestic flights.

Ash spews from the Mayon volcano as it continues to erupt, seen from the town of Daraga in Albay province, south of Manila on 23 January 2018. Picture: AFP

MANILA - A central Philippine province suspended work on Tuesday in public and private offices in at least three towns as a heavy fall of ash hit urban areas, amid the continued eruption of the country’s most active volcano.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said it shut down the Legazpi airport in Albay province because of ashfall, affecting nine international and 16 domestic flights.

The Mayon volcano has been placed just one notch below the highest alert level of 5 since Monday, when it spewed more lava, ash and a mixture of gases, rock debris and water that scientists call “pyroclastic density currents”.

Al Francis Bichara, Albay’s governor and chairman of its disaster agency, said he had suspended office work in three town due to the thick ashfall.

The danger zone around the 2,462-metre volcano has been expanded to a radius of 9km. Bichara said about 40,000 residents have sought temporary shelter in evacuation centres.

“Some people outside the danger zone are afraid, so we also have to accommodate them,” he added.

The volcano, which draws many tourists, last erupted in 2014.