The most active Mayon volcano erupts in the Philippines Monday a gigantic column of lava, ash and smoke.
Thousands of people had to go back to emergency shelter when officials warned that a major eruption was possibly imminent.
The mid-day explosion projected overheated lava, molten rocks and steam at an altitude of five kilometers, before falling back on the flanks of Mount Mayon and plunging neighboring villages into darkness.
No deaths or injuries are reported immediately.
This is the most violent explosion since the volcano began to activate a week ago.
The relative calm of the mountain in recent days had prompted thousands of people to return home. Some 12,000 people were, however, chased out of Monday’s explosion, bringing to more than 30,000 evacuees now in emergency shelters.
The alert level was raised Monday at four on a scale that has five. The danger zone has been widened to eight kilometers around the crater, which means that thousands of other villagers could be forced to leave. Several flights have been canceled.
Mount Mayon is 340 kilometers southeast of Manila. Its most deadly eruption in 1814 left more than 1,200 dead and buried the city of Cagsawa. The belfry of the Cagsawa Stone Church is still visible above the ground.