Mount Kanlaon erupted on Saturday, blanketing several barangays in La Carlota and Bago cities in Negros Occidental with ash, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.
The Phivolcs said a series of steam and ash eruptions occurred at the volcano’s crater yesterday morning. The first eruption was seen as 9 a.m. when the volcano produced a light gray plume that rose to about 1,500 meters. It was immediately followed by a thick, black ash plume that rose to about 500 meters.
Light ashfall was reported at the western slopes of the volcano in Barangays Ara-al, San Miguel and Yubo in La Carlota City and Barangays Sag-ang, La Castellana, and Ilijan in Bago City.
Phivolcs said Alert Level 1 status remains in effect over the volcano, which means that it is in a period of unrest. The agency said entry into the four-kilometer radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) is strictly prohibited because of the possibility of sudden eruptions.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines advised pilots to avoid flying close to the summit of the volcano because airborne ash from a sudden eruption can be hazardous to aircraft.
The volcano, located about 510 kilometers south of Manila, has been more active than usual since November, prompting the government to ban hikers from its slopes.
Kenn John Veracruz of Phivolcs said that so far, authorities had not detected any lava rising inside the 2.47-kilometer high volcano but they were checking how far the ash was being scattered by the wind and whether it could affect nearby communities.
“It has been raining in recent days so there was likely water that built up inside the volcano and since the crater is hot, it built up the steam pressure,” causing the eruption of ash, Veracruz, a member of the institute’s volcano monitoring division, said.
He added that it was possible the volcano could experience another ash eruption.
The civil defense office said they had not received any reports of damage or people affected from the ashfall but that authorities remain on alert.
Kanlaon has had several eruptions, usually of ash, in the past century, leading the government to impose a permanent four-kilometer “danger zone” around the volcano where people are barred from living.
In August, 1996, the volcano abruptly erupted, sending a spray of heated rocks that killed three hikers who were near the summit at the time.
The Philippines is located in the seismically active Pacific “Ring of Fire” and has over 20 active volcanoes.
Earlier this month, Mount Bulusan in the rural eastern province of Sorsogon fired a spectacular column of ash and steam into the air.