Philippines lower volcano alert

THE Philippines yesterday lowered the alert at its restive Mayon volcano by one notch after noticing signs of decreased activity, and cut to four miles a no-go zone at the mountain.

Residents near the no-go zone in the central province of Albay were warned of possible rockfalls, pyroclastic flows, ash emissions, and lahar (mud lava) in water channels, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology or Philvolcs said in its latest bulletin.

"The lowering of the alert level from four to three should not be interpreted that the unrest of the volcano has ceased," Phivolcs said in its bulletin, adding any possible sudden explosions were likely to occur only within the no-go zone.

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Authorities raised the alert level to four and extended the no-go zone to 10km at Mayon, known for its near-perfect cone shape, in the central Bicol region, on 20 December.

Albay governor Joey Salceda said he had allowed most residents to go home, but those coming from two villages near the volcano would have to stay at evacuation centres. At its peak, 50,000 people were seeking shelter in schools.