In the Path of a Killer Volcano

The volcano Mount Pinatubo had already sent warning puffs of gas and ash into the air above the island of Luzon in the Philippines.   Scientists monitoring the volcano's activity knew that it was just a matter of time before it truly erupted. Because of their predictions the decision was made for officials to make the evacuation of 50,000 people who lived on or near the volcano's slopes, because of that decision it saved thousands of lives.   On June 1991 Mount Pinatubo finally exploded.   With the blast came avalanches of searing hot gas, ash, called pyroclastic flows, all which came down from the volcano’s slopes.  
Officials and scientists who stayed behind faced another problem.   It was hours after Pinatubo’s eruption that a typhoon began pouring heavy rains on the area.   The rainwater then mixed with the loose volcanic material which then created a dense mud with the consistency of wet cement and that ended up causing mudflows, called lahars, which then began to come down from Pinatubo’s slopes.   The United States maintained two large military bases in the region; U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay was 75 km (50 mi.) to the southwest, while Clark Air Base was less than 25 km (16 mi.) to the east of the volcano's summit. They initiated a massive airlift effort to evacuate American service members and their families during and immediately following the eruption. Most personnel were initially relocated to Guam, Okinawa, and Hawaii, although some returned to the continental United States. Clark Air Base was ultimately abandoned by the United States military, and Subic Bay reverted to Philippines control the next year following the breakdown of lease negotiations.  
Since the eruption, each rainy season has brought further lahars, which have caused the displacement of thousands of people. Hundreds have died from poor sanitation in relocation camps. Agriculture in the region also suffered badly from the effects of the eruption, with hundreds of square kilometers of formerly...