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  1. ITV Report

Philippines fears violent eruption and thousands evacuated as Mount Mayon explodes

Thousands of people in the Philippines have been forced to leave their homes and head for evacuation centres after the country's most active volcano exploded on Monday, sparking fears a violent eruption is imminent.

Mount Mayon ejected a huge column of lava fragments, ash and smoke, leading authorities to raise the alert level to a four out of five over fears a violent eruption is possible in a matter of hours or days.

The midday explosion sent super-heated lava, molten rocks and steam up to three miles (five km) into the air, shrouding nearby villages into darkness and littering them with falling debris, Renato Solidum of the Philippine Institute of Seismology and Volcanology said.

Jukes Nunez, an Albay provincial disaster response officer described the aftermath of the explosion as being " like night time at noon, there was zero visibility in some areas because the ash fall was so thick".

Monday's explosion was the most powerful since the volcano began spewing smoke and lava a week ago.

A danger zone has been expanded to five miles (eight km) around Mount Mayon, meaning thousands of villagers will have to leave their homes, on top of the 30,000 who already have.

Following the explosion, volcanic ash fell in about a dozen towns in coconut-growing Albay province, where Mayon lies around 210 miles (340km) south-east of Manila.