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Five killed in sharp, violent volcanic eruption in the Philippines

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 7th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Volcanoes are deadly masterpieces of nature, as four German tourists and their tour guide tragically learned Tuesday. The group was killed as they hiked up the side of Mayon volcano. Five other hikers were injured.

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - The group was a victim of a routine eruption of steam and gas which lofted boulders as large as houses high into the air and raining back down on its flanks. According to local reports, 27 hikers were on the slope at the time of the spontaneous eruption.

Seismologists say the volcano sent a plume of steam and ash over 1,600 feet into the air.

Mayon volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines, however authorities permit climbing there when there appears to be no danger of imminent eruption. This time, they were wrong.

Sensing no signs of eruption, authorities allowed hikers into the normally permanent 3.7 mile "danger zone" for climbing. Hikers enjoy the slopes of the nearly perfect cone and wait for opportunities to climb the volcano.

However, the conical shape of the volcano is itself a warning. Cone-shaped volcanoes tend to be violent when they erupt and Mayon is a textbook example.

Seismologists say they do not believe a major eruption is imminent, that the venting was a routine event, but they advise against hiking the volcano's slopes. The most recent event only lasted about a minute, but was sufficient to create deadly havoc.

The last time Mayon erupted was in 2009. That event prompted the mass evacuation of tens of thousands of people.

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