Heavy rain has flooded villages around Mount Mayon in central Philippines as state volcanologists warned residents to prepare to flee as the risk of mud slides increased.
- More than 75,000 people have been evacuated from the area
- Experts warn mudflow carrying boulders the size of houses could bury communities
- Many farmers and workers have failed to heed evacuation orders
The volcano continued to spew lava and ash while ankle-deep floods clogged streets and forced the relocation of some evacuees staying in temporary shelters in low-lying areas.
The state volcanology institute has raised lahar, or mudflow, warnings in towns and villages near Mount Mayon, saying large boulders and mud coming from the summit could bury communities.
More than 75,000 people have fled their homes in the extended nine kilometre danger zone around Mount Mayon.
The eruption alert remains just one notch below the highest level of 5 after being raised from level 3 on Tuesday.
The most active volcano in the South-East Asian country has been spewing lava and ash for the past two weeks and may have a major eruption within days, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said.
“It’s a real threat so we are urging everyone to prepare and evacuate when told by authorities,” said Mariton Bornas, head of monitoring and eruption prediction at the agency.
“It’s really a dangerous combination for the communities,” she said.
“Lahar from Mayon can carry huge boulder and it can bury communities, wash away people and everything in its path.”
Ms Bornas said boulders as big as houses could roll down Mayon’s slopes in minutes.
Many farmers and quarry workers are defying evacuation orders to work in stone quarries and on farms.
In Salvacion village, many farmers were sneaking inside the danger zone to plant and look after farm animals saying they need to earn a living.
“I don’t think the volcano will erupt,” said Istong Jayvee.
“It already let out fire. It will quiet down soon.”
Farm worker Edna Medina said they are ready anytime to flee when the volcano erupts.
“When the volcano does erupt, we’ll get out of here using our motorcycle then head straight for the main road out,” she added.
But local resident Ronnie Daytong was not so optimistic.
“When Mayon has an eruption during heavy rains, lava will flow down all the way to Yawa River,” he said.
“A lot of villages will get affected. Right now, the flood is already rising, so what I’m trying to say is that someone should think of a solution.”