20K Flee Filipino Volcano
Lava flows, plumes of ash sent into sky
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2009 10:30 AM CST
Lava cascades down the slopes of Mayon volcano in Legazpi city, Albay province, in the Philippines at dawn Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Nelson Salting)
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(Newser) – The Philippines' most active volcano oozed lava and shot up plumes of ash today, forcing more than 20,000 people to evacuate their homes and face the possibility of a bleak Christmas in a shelter. State volcanologists raised the alert level on the cone-shaped, 8,070-foot Mayon volcano overnight to two steps below a major eruption after ash explosions. Dark orange lava fragments glowed in the dark as they trickled down the mountain slope overnight.

"It's already erupting," said the head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. Vehicles were provided to take the evacuating families to temporary shelter. "It's 10 days before Christmas. Most likely people will be in evacuation centers, and if Mayon's activity won't ease down we will not allow them to return to their homes," said one emergency management official said. "It's difficult and sad, especially for children."
 

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