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Volatile Volcano Prompts Philippines to Raise Alert Level

Lava cascades down the slopes of Mayon volcano as seen from Legazpi city, Albay province, around 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila, Philippines, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018.

Authorities in the Philippines have raised the alert level for its most active volcano after it sent a huge cloud of volcanic ash and rocks several kilometers in the air Monday.

A huge explosion Monday from Mount Mayon was the most powerful since the 2,462-meter tall volcano first began belching red-hot lava, ash and superheated gas and volcanic debris nearly two weeks ago.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology raised its alert level for Mayon to four on a scale of five, signifying hazardous eruption is imminent. The agency also expanded the danger zone surrounding the volcano to eight kilometers. As many as 40,000 residents have been forced to evacuate to safer ground as Mayon becomes more and more unstable.

Philippines Volcano
Philippines Volcano

Mount Mayon, located more than 300 kilometers from Manila, is one of the Philippines' 22 active volcanoes. Mayon has erupted at least 50 times in recorded memory, the worst in 1814, when the town of Cagsawa was buried in volcanic mud and over 1,000 people were killed.

The Philippines is situated in the "Ring of Fire," a line of seismic faults in the Pacific Ocean that is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity.