Thousands more flee erupting Philippine volcano

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The number of people displaced by an erupting Philippine volcano soared to more than 61,000 by Wednesday, the Southeast Asian country's disaster agency said, as Mount Mayon ejected lava that produced an ash plume 3 miles high.

It ejected ash and lava fountains up to 1.8 miles from the crater in a picturesque but increasingly risky eruption.

From the crater, the deadly debris billowed about three kilometers (1.8 miles) down on the southern plank of Mayon toward a no-entry danger zone.

He added that the rivers of lava emanating from the crater were more than three kilometers long and pyroclastic flows - currents of hot gas and volcanic rocks - swept as far as 5 kilometers from the crater.

More than 30,000 ash masks and about 5,000 sacks of rice, along with medicine, water and other supplies, were being sent to evacuation centers, Office of Civil Defense regional director Claudio Yucot said.

Temporary learning centers will be set up in dozens of schools which have been turned into evacuation centers to allow classes to continue.

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Earlier, he had said negotiators "will talk about all the topics we addressed in the exploratory talks again". The SPD's parliamentary leader Andrea Nahles said she would negotiate "until the other side squeals".

The DA said it has designated new livestock-evacuation and-pooling areas where affected residents could bring their farm animals.

Authorities, however, struggled to prevent villagers from sneaking back to check on their homes and farms and to watch a popular cockfight in Albay's Santo Domingo town despite the risks and police patrols and checkpoints.

Mayon, known for its near flawless cone, last erupted in 2014.

"We are anxious. We got used to the volcano, but we are still afraid", said one evacuee, Irene Agao.

Mount Mayon's last eruption took place in 2013 when four climbers and their guide died after trekking near the summit.

In 1991, Mount Pinatubo in the northern Philippines exploded in one of the biggest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century, killing hundreds of people, covering entire towns and cities in ash and prompting the US government to abandon its vast air and naval bases on the main northern Luzon island. Its most destructive eruption was in February 1841, when lava flows buried a town and killed 1,200 people.

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