Philippines: Mount Mayon eruption disrupts daily life, flights cancelled due to heavy ashfall

Ash from Mount Mayon volcano eruption engulfs Philippines: Dos and don'ts during ashfall

Mount Merapi volcano spews ash as seen from Kali Tengah
Picture for representation Reuters

Philippines' central province of Albay has temporarily suspended all work in offices in at least three towns and closed down the Legazpi airport due to heavy ash spill from Mount Mayon, following the volcanic eruption on January, 23.

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines has said that this sudden halt has affected nine international and 16 domestic flights.

Ashfall in cases of volcanic eruption reduces visibility and chokes residents. Ash particles commonly have sharp broken edges, which makes them a very abrasive material and can bring damage to vehicles and houses. Not only this, ashfall can contaminate the water supply.

Residents are advised to stay indoors in such cases and seal their houses so that ash cannot enter. If caught in an ashfall while staying outdoors, one should use a mask or handkerchief to cover nose and goggles to protect eyes and take shelter as quick as possible.

Mount Mayon, the most active volcano in the Southeast Asian country, started showing signs of an imminent eruption since the night of January 22. Officials have raised the volcano alert level to 4 on a scale of 5 after it started spewing lava, ash, rock debris and mixture of gases.

Albay's governor and chairman of its disaster agency Al Francis Bichara said that the danger zone around the volcano has been expanded to a radius of 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) from initial 2,462-metre (8,077-foot). At least 40,000 residents have been evacuated from the surroundings and they are currently put up in evacuation centers.

Mount Mayon is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines. It has erupted more than 50 times in the last 500 years, and sometimes, the explosions were very deadly. The most destructive eruption occurred in 1814. 1200 people lost their lives in the aftermath. In 2013, five climbers lost their lives after they started trekking the mountain despite eruption warnings.