Alert levels raised as volcanoes rumble to life in Philippines and Peru

The Mayon volcano releases smoke into the air as seen from Legazpi on June 12, 2023. Picture: CHARISM SAYAT / AFP

The Mayon volcano releases smoke into the air as seen from Legazpi on June 12, 2023. Picture: CHARISM SAYAT / AFP

Published Jul 4, 2023



The erupting Mayon volcano, approximately 500km south-east of the Philippine capital, has increased seismic activities, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology warned on Tuesday.

The institute said that an alert level 3 on a scale of five remains in place at the most active volcano in the south-east Asian country, despite the persistence of "a continuous tremor-like series of weak volcanic earthquakes that steadied and increased in strength".

There is an increased tendency towards "a hazardous eruption", the institute warned, adding that it is closely monitoring "the increase in seismic energy release".

Thousands of people have been evacuated after Mount Mayon, the most active volcano in the Philippines, began spewing lava down its slopes on Sunday. This grahic on June 13, 2023, shows danger zones around Mount Mayon. Source: GRAPHIC NEWS

The 2 460m hight, cone-shaped volcano in Albay province began erupting on June 8, prompting the government to evacuate thousands of residents at the foot of the volcano. Residents have reported trace ash fall from the volcano in at least two towns.

The institute reiterated the need to avoid the 6km permanent danger zone. "Communities within the seven-and eight-km radius be prepared in case the current pyroclastic density activity worsens," it warned.

The Mayon volcano last erupted in 2018, resulting in the evacuation of more than 23 000 people from nine cities and municipalities.


Meanwhile, Peru's Ubinas volcano, which has become active again after four dormant years, blew its top twice on Tuesday, showering nearby towns with ash, the country's IGP geophysical institute said.

One of the country’s most active volcanoes, Ubinas started a new eruption on June 24, emitting gas and ash puffs.

The Ubinas volcano spews ashes in Moquegua region, 70km from Arequipa, Peru, on September 2, 2013. Picture: Peruvian Center of Operations of National Emergency / AFP

On Tuesday, two eruptions blew ash some 5 500m into the sky. The ash settled over the southern Peruvian districts of Ubinas and Matalaque, according to satellite images.

IGP volcanologist Jose Del Carpio said Tuesday's event marked the start of a period of "eruptive activity", requiring the alert level to be raised from yellow to orange.

This means evacuations can be ordered, although none have been announced yet.

"From here on out, eruptions could occur at intervals of hours," said Del Carpio, dumping ash on nearby districts home to about 2 200 people.

The volcano rises to 5 672m above sea level in the Moquegua department some 1 250km south of Lima.

The IGP president, Hernando Tavera, said more than five hours of ash emissions were recorded on Tuesday "and we cannot rule out that this activity continues" in the coming hours.

Since 1550, there have been 25 eruptions recorded at Ubinas.

There are 40 volcanoes in Moquegua and the neighbouring regions of Arequipa and Tacna, most of them are dormant.

Xinhua and Agence France-Presse (AFP)