Philippine military officials ordered to crack down on volcano tourists

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LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Philippines authorities, dismayed by tourists venturing into dangerous areas near the restive Mayon Volcano, are cracking down, reports indicate.

Radio dzBB said Monday that the Albay Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council has ordered military officials to arrest those caught inside the forbidden zone that extends out five miles around volcano.

Military spokesman Capt. Razaleigh Bansawan told the broadcaster that a Philippines Army infantry platoon made up of at least 25 soldiers would begin manning additional checkpoints around the Mayon danger zone, adding that roadblocks have been erected on some side roads to prevent tourists from sneaking in.

GMAnews.tv said reports have come in telling of how local “tourist guides” have been helping onlookers get close to the volcano, including allegations that tourists can even rent all-terrain vehicles to get up close and personal with the smoldering mountain.

Scientists with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said Mayon was still restive, with more than 40 volcanic quakes and several minor volcanic explosions occurring Sunday night, the Web site reported.