Millions of tonnes of ash and rocks from an erupting Philippine volcano could bury nearby communities due to heavy rain, authorities said Saturday, as tens of thousands flee over fears of a deadly explosion.
The official Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) issued the warning as heavy rains lashed the surroundings of the Mayon volcano, which has been emitting flaming lava and giant clouds of superheated ash for about a week.
Rainwater could combine with the volcanic ash and rock to form deadly, fast-moving mudflows -- called "lahars" -- that could sweep away entire settlements, authorities said.
"If there is ash fall and heavy rain, it can be converted into (a) lahar," Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum told AFP.
"The important thing is to move out in case of heavy rains... this is a precautionary measure."