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Filipino volcano spews ash, more explosions likely

Written by: Staff
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MANILA, Mar 22 (Reuters) More earthquakes and ash explosions were likely from Bulusan volcano in central Philippines, vulcanologists today said as they warned nearby residents to stay away from the mountain.

Bulusan spewed ash clouds nearly 1 mile into the sky yesterday night, its first major volcanic activity since similar explosions from November 1994 to January 1995.

''There is indeed abnormality and most likely this is a steam-driven explosion,'' Renato Solidum, director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Philvocs), said in a television interview.

''We can probably expect more explosions as a manifestation of this and more volcanic earthquakes,'' he said, adding that Philvocs was ready to raise its alert level if necessary.

''If ever we see signs that there is magma moving up the summit of the volcano, then we can raise the alert to a higher level.'' The Institute issued an alert level of 1 in Bulusan on Sunday after detecting successive quakes. The highest alert level is 5, indicating lava flows or ash columns reaching 6 km.

Mild volcanic quakes were also felt and steam was seen coming from the crater of the 1,559-metre volcano in Sorsogon province early today, Jaime Sincioco of the volcanology institute told Reuters.

Sincioco warned residents not to venture within the 4-km danger zone due to fears of sudden explosions.

Bulusan is one of six active volcanoes in the country monitored by government vulcanologists.

The Philippines lies on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a zone of frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Mount Pinatubo, on Luzon island in northern Philippines, erupted in 1991 in the century's biggest blast, burying dozens of villages under tonnes of boiling mud after lying dormant for 600 years.

More than 800 people died in the wake of Pinatubo's eruption, mostly from diseases in overcrowded evacuation camps.

REUTERS DKS BST1752

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