Volcano Spews Lava, but Some Refuse to Leave

At the Mayon volcano site, volcanologists continue to warn residents to leave.

ByABC News
December 28, 2009, 8:22 AM

LEGAZPI, Philippines, Dec. 28, 2009 — -- At the Mayon volcano in the Philippines, collapsed lava sent ash plumes billowing into the air and the wind drifted the debris towards fleeing residents.

"We went out of the house heading downhill," says Daisy Mina, 32. "We were running."

Risking her life to tend to her shop at home, the mother of two children keeps a packed bag close by for moments like this when she has to run.

"It was big," Mina said of the ash explosion, "so we were very afraid."

Still she won't evacuate, explaining that she can't afford to leave the plants that she sells to make her under-$100 weekly income.

As the alert level lingers at the 2nd highest level for over a week now, volcanologists continue to warn residents to clear out.

"Mayon's eruptions usually have pyroclastic flows," resident volcanologist Eduardo Laguerta tells ABC News, describing the high-speed avalanche of hot ash and gas. "And if you will be within the strength of the pyroclastic flow, then definitely you will be killed."

Randy Austria, 29, also sprinted away in his flip-flops when he saw the ash.

"We were born and raised here," Austria says, explaining his refusal to evacuate. "We have our source of living here. At the foot of the volcano, it's the place where we plant our vegetables."

"The top three reasons people return to their homes during the evacuation," Gov. Joey Salceda tells ABC News, "are for firewood, their animals and their farms."

"Women, children, mothers," Austria says, "they stay at the evacuation center while men and fathers return back home to tend the animals. We also need to watch over our property."