Mount Kanlaon volcano erupts sending 3-mile ash plume into the sky

Hundreds of residents living near Mount Kanlaon in the Philippines were ordered to evacuate Tuesday after the volcano erupted, sending a three-mile tall (five-kilometer) ash column into the sky that caused dozens of flights to be cancelled.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said Mount Kanlaon erupted for six minutes on Monday evening, causing a “strong earthquake,” as the agency warned that ash fall and sulphuric odor would affect surrounding villages.

Forty-three volcanic earthquakes had been recorded in the 24 hours to midnight Monday, according to the agency’s volcano summary.

Images on social media showed an ash cloud shooting into the starry night sky. Others showed a thick blanket of ash covering surrounding villages.

Over 60 flights from three domestic carriers were cancelled overnight, impacting over 5,000 passengers, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

The Bacolod-Silay Airport resumed operations by 11 a.m. on Tuesday but passengers are expected to face delays.

Since the alert level on the volcano was raised to 2 out of a possible 5 early Tuesday, local government officials have ordered the mandatory evacuation of all residents living within a 3-kilometer (1.8-mile) radius of the volcano.

“Go down to your respective evacuation centers, be vigilant, and prepare important things such as water and food,” Jose Chubasco Cardenas, mayor of Canlaon City in Negros Oriental province, said a Facebook video.

Situated on Negros, the fourth most populous island of the archipelago, Mount Kanlaon is one of 24 seismically active volcanoes in the country.

It straddles two provinces and sits at highest point on the island with an elevation of 8,086 feet (2,465 meters) above sea level.

The Philippines sits along the Ring of Fire, a 25,000-mile (40,000-kilometer) arc of seismic fault lines around the Pacific Ocean that hosts more than half of the world’s volcanoes.