Seeing Red; the Volcanic Eruption of Mount Mayon
Article by Cassidy Morrell
Edited by Allison Gerry
When 700 meters of lava shoots up into the sky, most people’s first reaction is to run. But on January 15, 2018, the Philippine army and police struggled to hold back civilians who sprinted back into the smokey clouds of air to check on their homes and farms after being evacuated from their city.
Mount Mayon, the country’s most active volcano, erupted for an entire eight minutes in the Philippines and burst up into the air with a heavy blanket of ash. The black soot clouded the sky for farther than a mile, causing the towns and cities to be flourished in darkness. According to the authorities, 56,000 people were forced to leave their homes in order to survive the oozing magma and boiling hot temperatures that could easily set the fabric of their clothes on fire.
After the tremendously loud explosion, lava continuously flowed out of the mountain, spilling down the side and heading straight for the cities of the Philippines. The first explosion was soon followed by 500 other explosions, and caused two miles worth of glowing lava to cascade down the steep slopes of the volcano. The alert level for volcano danger is based on a 1-5 scale and the Mount Mayon eruption reached all the way up to a four. This alert surpasses the danger zone by a solid 4 ½ miles, not giving people much time to run that distance to a safe area before being buried alive in waves of moving lava mudflows. Although there were no casualties, over 7,000 people were all placed into small evacuation shelters while others sought shelter in the streets.
Furthermore, as if the excruciating hot magma wasn’t dangerous enough, the gases that erupted into the air with the lava, have settled back down low enough so that people could not breathe. The fast-moving flows of these toxic chemicals floating in the air are a huge threat to human life. However, over 300,000 ash masks, food, medicine and water were generously donated by local communities and the Red Cross to the Philippines’ evacuation shelters and its victims in this desperate time of need.