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Thursday, 6 September, 2001, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
Philippines volcano lake empties
Water flows out as workers widen the man-made channel in the crater's wall
The channel is intended to drain a quarter of the lake
Water from the crater lake of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines is flowing out as planned through a channel dug in its side.

Workers carefully opened the channel on Thursday, and water began flowing gently out into a nearby river.

Local experts at the scene some 90km (55 miles) north of the capital Manila said there was now little danger of flooding.

Raymundo Pungonbayan, director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology, said flash floods were "out of the question. It has been established by the digging that the rock present is not as soft as envisioned."

Rainwater

The lake, in the crater of Mount Pinatubo, has filled with rainwater since it was created in an eruption 10 years ago.

People sitting on masonry beside lake Pinatubo
People chose any vantage point to view the draining of the lake
The channel is intended to drain about a quarter of the crater lake's rainwater into the River Bucao, thus relieving pressure on the crater's upper walls.

It took workers several weeks digging with picks and shovels to complete the five-metre deep drainage channel.

It is believed this is the first time such an operation has been carried out anywhere in the world.

More than 40,000 people from villages near the volcano were evacuated in case the attempt to drain the lake went wrong.

Click here to see drainage plan

The BBC's John McLean in Manila says that the original drainage ditch proved too shallow, so workers have begun to deepen it.


The problem has its roots in Mount Pinatubo's 1991 eruption, when 800 people were killed.

The volcano's top was blown off during the eruption, leaving a hole covering five square kilometres (two square miles).

The draining of water from the lake is expected to take several days, and the evacuees will be kept on safe ground until the operation is complete.




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 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Adam Brookes
reports from Mount Pinatubo
See also:

06 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Philippines volcano draining begins
25 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
Volcano disaster warning
16 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Volcanic lake threatens disaster
31 Jan 01 | Sci/Tech
Early warning for volcanic mudslides
08 Jun 01 | Sci/Tech
Satellite snaps volcano eruption
24 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Thousands flee Philippines volcano
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