Tuesday 7 May 2013

Five people killed by eruption on Mount Mayon, the Philippines.

Five people are reported to have been killed in an eruption on Mount Mayon, an active stratovolcano (cone shaped volcano) on Luzon Island in the Philippines. The five, who have been described as four German tourists and a local guide, were part of a group of 20 people who were approaching the summit  of the volcano, when they were caught by a small phreatic explosion (an explosion caused by liquid water encountering hot magma and vaporizing instantly), which though a column of ash 500 m into the air and showered them with rock fragments. Another seven people were injured in the blast, which took place at about 8.00 am on 7 May 2013, local time (midnight between 6 and 7 May, GMT).

Ash column above Mount Mayon. Reuters.

Mount Mayon is located on Luzon Island, about 330 km southeast of Manila. It is a popular tourist location, with frequent tours visiting the summit, bringing important tourism revenue into the area, but it is also a very active volcano, frequently undergoing several small eruptions in a year, with occasional larger and more devastating eruptions; an eruption in 1814 is thought to have killed over a thousand people, more recently 77 deaths were attributed to an eruption in 1984. Lahars are also a frequent problem on Mayon; these are volcanic mudflows, that do not necessarily occur at the same time as eruptions. Ashfalls can block parts of seasonal watercourses during eruptions. These ashfalls act like small damns with the arrival of the monsoon rains in April/May, blocking the flow of water temporarily, till it builds up sufficiently for the damn to burst, unleashing a torrent of thick muddy water down the sides of the volcano.

The location of Mount Mayon. Google Maps.

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