Albay expands Mayon danger zone to 9km

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – Albay province on Tuesday, January 23, has expanded the the danger zone around Mayon Volcano to 9 kilometers, as an additional safety measure while the volcano continues to be active.

"We are extending 9-km extended zone even at level 4 status of Mayon Volcano so that we have 1-km buffer zone," Cedric Daep, chief of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office, said.

On Monday, January 22, the danger zone was put at 8 kilometers, when the alert level was raised to 4 from 3.

The 1-km advance buffer zone was imposed to prevent locals from going back into the "no-man's land" area.

There will be no rescue in the event of a pyroclastic flow from the volcano, Daep said.

On Monday evening and early Tuesday, lava was observed flowing out of the volcano's crater.

Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara on Tuesday also suspended work in both private and public offices in the city of Ligao and the municipalities of Camalig and Guinobatan, "except those engaged in peace and order, health, social services and disaster management" due to the heavy ashfall brought by the latest eruption.

Alert level 4 was raised on Monday, after it spewed a giant ash column past noon. The ash cloud towered over the 2,460-meter (8,070-feet) volcano. Ashfall was observed in parts of the province's 2nd and 3rd districts, as well as in Legazpi City.

Phivolcs warned that a "hazardous" eruption is imminent in the coming days.

"The public is reminded not to panic," Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum said in an interview on CNN Philippines. "In essence, just be ready." – with reports from Rhaydz Barcia / Rappler.com