Stirring volcano's fatal attraction

Stirring volcano's fatal attraction
The crater of Mayon as seen from Legazpi City, Albay province, yesterday. Lava continued to cascade down the Philippines' most active volcano, as the authorities rushed to evacuate thousands ahead of a possible deadly eruption.

LEGAZPI CITY, THE PHILIPPINES - Mayon volcano, famed for its near-perfect cone and brutal volatility, has begun to stir again.

But, even as the authorities rushed to evacuate thousands yesterday ahead of a possible deadly eruption, locals involved in the tourist industry expect Mayon's latest burst to be a mini-boom.

"This will boost local tourism… It's like a party. People are out at night watching," said Marti Calleja, who runs all-terrain-vehicle tours near Mayon for as many as 100 tourists per week.

"It's dramatic, like a fireworks show… When there's nothing happening, it's all dark around here, but now, it's picture-perfect," Mr Calleja told AFP.

He said that when Mayon became active in the past, his clients often requested night tours to see the glowing crater.

Aljon Banares, who works for a backpackers' inn 12km from the volcano, was also preparing for more visitors.

"We have more guests in situations like this. Tourists want to see the lava flow," Mr Banares said.

The area, about 330km south-east of Manila, is already a draw for visitors who want to see Mayon's cone, sample the region's spicy cuisine and visit its beautiful beaches.

Four foreign tourists and their local tour guide were killed when Mayon last erupted, in May last year.

However they were on the volcano's slopes at the time, and Mr Banares said tourists would not be in danger if they acted sensibly.

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