The Philippines raised the alert*at its restive Mayon volcano by one notch early Sunday,*citing signs of rising magma that could lead to hazardous eruptions. Residents were evacuated from two villages near the volcano,*a tourist attraction in central Albay province because of its*near-perfect cone shape, following a "phreatic or steam-driven*eruption" Saturday. The explosion unleashed ash, rocks and sulfuric odor, and*was followed by rumbling sounds and a faint glow in the crater,*the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology*(Phivolcs) said in its latest bulletin. Phivolcs raised the alert to Level 2, which means that the*current activity is "probably of magmatic origin, which could lead to more phreatic eruptions or eventually to hazardous magmatic eruptions." Mayon's most destructive eruption was in February 1841, when*lava flows buried a town and killed 1,200 people. It last*erupted in 2014, spewing lava and forcing thousands of people to*evacuate. "The public is strongly advised to be vigilant and desist*from entering the 6-kilometer [3.7-mile] radius Permanent*Danger Zone to minimize risks from sudden explosions, rockfall*and landslides," Phivolcs said. It advised people experiencing ashfall to cover their noses*and mouths with a damp, clean cloth or dust mask. It also said*aircraft must avoid flying close to the volcano's summit. Those within the slope of the volcano, but outside the 6-kilometer danger zone, were told to take precautionary measures against*possible roof collapses due to accumulated ash and rainwater. Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum said the volcano appeared due*for another eruption, as it has been displaying abnormal*behavior since late last year. But Cedric Daep, head of the Albay Provincial Disaster Risk*Reduction and Management Office, said those in evacuation*centers might be allowed to return to their homes later in the*day, unless Phivolcs raised*the volcano alert level further. He said not all residents evacuated live inside the 6-kilometer*danger zone. "We have not reached the critical level," he said in a radio*interview. "Alert Level 3 is what we considered critical, 4 is*when eruption is imminent, and 5 is eruption in progress."

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