Thousands evacuated as Philippine volcano spews ash, rocks

Thousands of people living near a Philippine volcano have taken shelter in evacuation centres as officials warned Sunday of health risks from ash and toxic gases spewing from the rumbling crater.

Seismology researchers said they had recorded at least one volcanic earthquake in the past 24 hours and red-hot rocks were falling from Mount Mayon in the central province of Albay.

More than 12,800 people have been moved to evacuation centres, the Philippine civil defence office said, most from farming villages at or near the foot of the volcano.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said rocks were falling from a disintegrating lava dome being pushed out of the crater by molten material below the earth.

"There is a concomitant health risk while being close to the eruption because of inhaling sulphur dioxide gas or the particulate matter of ashfalls," Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa told a press briefing Sunday.

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