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Phivolcs heightens watch of restive Mayon Volcano

MANILA, Philippines - State volcanologists have intensified their monitoring of Mayon Volcano in Albay province after it showed signs of abnormal activity, a radio report said Saturday. According to a report from Bombo Radyo, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) resident volcanologist Ed Laguerta said they have been monitoring the volcano 24 hours daily after observing a rise in volcanic quakes in the area. Laguerta also said the glow on Mayon's crater has become visible. For now, Alert Level 1 remains for Mayon, but he advised tourists and visitors against mountain-climbing activities there. Based on Philvolcs' alert system for Mayon Volcano sent to GMANews.TV, Alert Level 1 means there is low-level unrest with slight increase in seismicity. There is also a "slight increase in sulfur dioxide gas output above the background level. A very faint glow at the crater may occur, but no conclusive evidence of magma ascent." At this level, no eruption is imminent, Phivolcs said. The Phivolcs Web site showed that its latest advisory on Mayon was dated Aug. 10 last year, when the volcano manifested mild ash explosion that reached 200 meters from the crater. Phivolcs reminded the public of the 7-kilometer Extended Danger Zone at the southeastern flank of the volcano and the 6-kilometer radius Permanent Danger Zone in other areas. Such areas remain off-limits due to the continuing threat from sudden small explosions and falling rocks from the upper slopes. Mount Mayon is located 300 km southeast of Manila. Meanwhile, a magnitude-5.1 quake rocked parts of Southern Luzon Saturday morning, but there was no initial report of casualty or damage. The United States Geological Service (USGS) said the quake was recorded at 8:41 a.m. The epicenter was traced to 30 km west of Batangas. The report said the epicenter was located 60 km northwest of Calapan town in Mindoro, 100 km south-southwest of Manila, or 130 km south-southeast of Olongapo City in Zambales. - GMANews.TV