More than 12,000 residents were evacuated from the foot of Mount Mayon in the Philippines today as the volcano spewed out lava that spilled a half-mile down the mountain and glowed ominously from the crater at its peak, the AP reports. Joey Salceda, governor of the Albay province, ordered the evacuation of everyone within a 5-mile radius of the crater, while the region within 4 miles of the volcano was declared a "permanent no-go danger zone." His order came on the heels of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raising the alert status to Level 3, indicating that a "hazardous eruption" could take place within weeks, Yahoo Philippines reports. The area had already been experiencing quakes and falling rocks, Reuters reports.
The volcano, located slightly more than 200 miles southeast of Manila, is known around the world for its nearly perfectly shaped cone—but also for its tumultuous temperament. It has erupted 50 times over the past five centuries, notes the AP, including a devastating 1814 eruption that killed more than 1,200 people, the BBC reports. Locals have even taken to putting up white crosses to ward off bad luck, according to the AP, but officials aren't banking on superstition-driven preemptive strikes to keep the lava at bay. "It's already erupting, but not explosive," says an institute official. "Currently, the activity is just lava coming down. [But] if there is an explosion, all sides of the volcano are threatened."