The Philippines' most active volcano has sent more huge lava fragments rolling down its slopes in an ongoing gentle eruption that has prompted authorities to evacuate thousands of villagers, officials said Wednesday.
Increased restiveness was recorded overnight, including 270 incidents of lava fragments and super-hot boulders rolling down from Mayon's crater — nearly four times the number recorded the previous day. Some reached the upper portion of a gully on the volcano's southeastern side, indicating that the lava dome has breached that side of the crater. The number of low-frequency volcanic earthquakes also increased.
Molten lava has accumulated at the top of the 2,460-meter (8,070-foot) volcano's crater, creating a glow in the night sky that sparked both awe and fear among spectators.
"It's already erupting, but not explosive," said Renato Solidum, who heads the government's volcano monitoring agency. "Currently, the activity is just lava coming down. If there is an explosion, all sides of the volcano are threatened."
Volcanologist Ed Laguerta said he saw huge glowing lava fragments and super-hot boulders rolling down from Mayon's crater late Tuesday from as far as 12 kilometers (7 miles) away.
"They are big because they can be seen from afar, and they splinter, so they could be car-sized," he added.
Mount Mayon, a popular tourist site known for its near-perfect cone, lies in coconut-producing Albay province, about 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila.