Flight warning as residents flee Philippine volcano

MANILA, November 10, 2010 (AFP) – Scores of people fled their homes near a restive Philippine volcano Wednesday, while authorities advised pilots to avoid flying near clouds of fine ash shooting out from its crater.

Around 170 people fled several villages at the base of the 1,565-meter (5,135-foot) Mount Bulusan volcano, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in Manila.

They are being temporarily housed and fed at the mayor’s office in Irosin town and at a school in nearby Casiguran, it added.

Soldiers and police will also be posted to enforce a six kilometer (3.7 miles) exclusion zone around the crater and trucks are on standby to take evacuees to government-run shelters, the local Philippine Army command said.

Bulusan showered nearby communities with ash on Tuesday following explosions and loud booms, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said in an advisory, adding that it expects more activity to come.

“Civic aviation authorities must advise pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit as ejected ash and volcanic fragments from sudden explosions may pose hazard to aircraft,” it said.

Bulusan, 250 kilometers (160 miles) southeast of the capital Manila on the main island of Luzon, is one of the country’s 23 active volcanoes.

People living near streams and valleys in the area were warned that mudflows of volcanic ash could be triggered by heavy rainfall.

The local government said a quarter million people live in six towns around the volcano, and many of them could be at risk if the mild eruption increases in intensity.

Bulusan has erupted 16 times in recorded history, the last time in 2006. It began emitting ash again from November 6.

The Philippines is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire where frequent volcanic eruptions and earthquakes take place.

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