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More evacuated amid Philippine volcano fears

MANILA, April 17, 2011 (AFP) – Philippine authorities said Sunday more people had been evacuated from towns and villages near a volcano island close to the capital amid increasing signs of seismic activity.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said the number evacuated had increased to 1,375 as of Saturday from four towns near Taal volcano, while seismologists recorded 10 volcanic earthquakes overnight.

Water temperatures and gas emissions also increased, seismologists said.

“This large rise in CO2 (carbon dioxide) concentration indicates gas release from the magma at depth,” the council said.

It advised the public to stay away from hiking trails on the scenic island because of the possibility of explosions.

“Breathing air with (a) high concentration of gases can be lethal to humans, animals and may even cause damage to vegetation,” it added.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology began detecting activity at Taal — a popular tourist destination — early this month and on April 9 raised the alert level to the second of five, indicating a state of moderate volcanic unrest.

Taal is one of the most unstable of the country’s active volcanoes, with 33 eruptions in recorded history, the last in 1977.

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