MANILA (Philippines) -- On Sunday, a volcano southeast of Manila erupted steam and ash about a kilometer (half-mile) into the air, alarming residents and scattering ash in nearby villages, officials stated.
After the 17-minute blast, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology increased the alert level at Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon Province. However, they added that there was no indication of an impending major volcanic eruption.
Officials said there were no reports of injuries. They said that 14 people were walking with four guides on a trail along the 1,565-meter (5.134-foot) volcano. However, everyone made it to safety.
Rica Tomale, a villager, was hanging her laundry when the ash fell on Juban, a coastal town near Bulusan. It shrouded the sky in darkness. She said that two motorcycles fell on the ash-covered roads, but that the drivers were not hurt.
"I was scared so I ran back to my house where we hurriedly changed our masks." Tomale, a mother-of-two, said by telephone that she was shocked by the ashfall, noting that she didn't hear the volcano explode.
Bulusan, one of the most active volcanoes in the country, has been showing signs that it is becoming unrest. In recent years, there have been occasional ash explosions and steam explosions.
The government volcanology institute stated that the volcano is in "an abnormal condition" and requested people to avoid the 4-kilometer (2.4-mile long) danger zone surrounding the volcano.
Ashfall struck at least seven villages near Juban, at the foot of Bulusan. People were asked to stay indoors while wearing masks. Motorists were advised not to drive.
Officials stated that they were considering whether to evacuate residents, particularly pregnant women and elderly, as well as children.
The institute advised people living outside the zone of permanent danger to be aware of the increased risk of eruptions and mudflows during the rainy season. The volcano is located approximately 600 km (373 miles) southeast from Manila.
The Philippine archipelago is home to about twenty-six active volcanoes. It lies on the Pacific Ocean's Ring of Fire, where volcanic activity and earthquakes are common.