Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hundreds of villagers flee as Philippine volcano belches ash and smoke

What and Where Are the Phillipines?
The Philippines, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines (Filipino: Republika ng Pilipinas), is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean.

To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam. The Sulu Sea to the southwest lies between the country and the island of Borneo, and to the south the Celebes Sea separates it from other islands of Indonesia. It is bounded on the east by the Philippine Sea.

Its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire and its tropical climate make the Philippines prone to earthquakes and typhoons but have also endowed the country with natural resources and made it one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world. An archipelago comprising 7,107 islands, the Philippines is categorized broadly into three main geographical divisions: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Its capital city is Manila.

With an estimated population of about 92 million people, the Philippines is the world's 12th most populous country. An additional 11 million Filipinos live overseas. Multiple ethnicities and cultures are found throughout the islands.

Winnipeg Free Press: Hundreds of villagers flee as Philippine volcano belches ash and smoke
MANILA, Philippines - Hundreds of villagers fled to safety Monday after a restive volcano belched ash and smoke into the sky after a monthlong lull, officials said.

Despite Mount Bulusan's ash explosion, its 13th since November, there were no signs of an imminent eruption involving magma pushing out of the cone, said government chief volcanologist Renato Solidum.

The huge plume of greyish smoke shot up to more than a mile (2 kilometres) toward the blue sky, with the ash drifting southwest toward four farming towns in Sorsogon province, where about 1,200 villagers fled to emergency shelters and houses of relatives, said Benito Ramos, who heads the government's disaster-response agency.

Army trucks helped villagers move from communities hit by the ashfall and emergency teams handed out protective masks, Ramos said.

There have not been any government orders to evacuate communities near the mountain. While many scrambled to safety, residents streamed out of houses in Irosin town to gaze or take pictures of the mid-morning spectacle using their cellphones.

Still-hot debris at the peak of Bulusan, one of the country's 23 active volcanoes, came into contact with water, sparking the explosion. Such steam-driven blasts have happened since November and could continue in coming weeks, Solidum said.

Bulusan lies about 240 miles (380 kilometres) southeast of Manila.

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