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Philippine volcano spews ash, residents warned

Written by: Staff
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MANILA, Mar 22 (Reuters) A volcano in the central Philippines spewed ash clouds nearly 1 mile into the sky and officials warned residents today not to go near the mountain.

The 1,559-metre Bulusan volcano in Sorsogon province spewed ash yesterday night, said Jaime Sincioco of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

''Last night, at 10.58 p.m., there was a phreatic or steam-driven explosion, producing ash clouds 1.5 km from the summit. That's just a mild ash emission,'' he told Reuters.

Mild vulcanic quakes were also felt and steam was seen coming from the crater early on Wednesday, Sincioco said.

He warned residents not to venture within the 4-km (2.5-mile) danger zone due to fears of sudden explosions.

''We are still monitoring the volcano. We will raise the alert level as appropriate,'' Sincioco said. ''The present manifestation still does not indicate that a major activity is imminent.'' The Institute raised alert level 1 in Bulusan on Sunday after their instruments detected successive quakes. The highest level of alert is 5, indicating lava flows or ash columns reaching 6 km.

Bulusan, which made similar explosions from November 1994 to January 1995, is one of six of the most active volcanoes monitored by government vulcanologists.

The Philippines lies in an area in the Pacific basin that is vulnerable to earthquakes and vulcanic eruptions.

Mount Pinatubo, on Luzon island in the northern Philippines, erupted in 1991 in the century's biggest blast, burying dozens of villages under tonnes of 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 PR PM1103

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