The alert level around the most active volcano in the Philippines has been raised, as vulcanologists warn of a possible eruption within days.
A no-go zone has been extended and troops have been called in to forcibly evacuate – if necessary – people living within the 10 kilometre restricted area.
The cone-shaped Mayon volcano has been spewing ash and burning mud and rocks for a week.
Julio Sabit, from the Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said: “The volcano’s seismic activity is still high. We recorded many earthquakes. In the past 24 hours, we observed 222 volcanic earthquakes.”
Mayon is the most active of 22 volcanoes in the country. It erupted in 1814 killing 1200 people in Lava flows which buried an entire town.
More than 40,000 people have been evacuated so far. They have been moved to temporary shelters
where food and water stations have been set up.
The alert was raised to level four after the volcano showed signs of increased activity. The maximum alert level of five means an eruption is underway.
Hundreds of volcanic tremors have been recorded in the last 12 hours and watching scientists believe an eruption is imminent.