Dark Christmas for fleeing Mayon folk

LEGAZPI CITY—Albay officials have begun moving thousands of villagers out of harm’s way near Mayon Volcano after it oozed lava and shot plumes of ash late Monday.

Officials said the villagers would probably spend a bleak Christmas in an evacuation center.

Government volcanologists raised the alert level on the cone-shaped, 2,460-meter volcano overnight to two steps below eruption after ash explosions and dark orange lava fragments glowing in the dark trickled down the mountain slope.

Nearly 50,000 people live in the “hazard areas” within an eight-kilometer radius around Mayon, and authorities were ordering them to leave in case the volcano erupts, Gov. Joey Salceda said.

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