January 23, 2018 / 7:56 AM / a year ago

Philippine province halts work, flights amid heavy volcanic ashfall

Lava cascades down the slopes of the Mayon volcano during its eruption at Daraga, Albay Province, Philippines January 23, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

MANILA (Reuters) - A central Philippine province suspended work on Tuesday in public and private offices in at least three towns as a heavy fall of ash hit urban areas, amid the continued eruption of the country’s most active volcano.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said it shut down the Legazpi airport in Albay province because of ashfall, affecting nine international and 16 domestic flights.

The Mayon volcano has been placed just one notch below the highest alert level of 5 since Monday, when it spewed more lava, ash and a mixture of gases, rock debris and water that scientists call “pyroclastic density currents”.

Al Francis Bichara, Albay’s governor and chairman of its disaster agency, said he had suspended office work in three town due to the thick ashfall.

The danger zone around the 2,462-metre (8,077-foot) volcano has been expanded to a radius of 9 kilometers (5.6 miles). Bichara said about 40,000 residents have sought temporary shelter in evacuation centers.

“Some people outside the danger zone are afraid, so we also have to accommodate them,” he added.

The volcano, which draws many tourists, last erupted in 2014.

Graphic: Volcanoes in the Philippines - tmsnrt.rs/2D6PYFu

Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Martin Petty and Clarence Fernandez

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