LEGASPI, Philippines (AFP) - The Philippines ordered the evacuation of 9,000 families after one of its most active volcanoes showed increased activity on Monday, shooting plumes of ash into the air. Mayon volcano had five ash explosions with incandescent materials going down three kilometres from the crater on Monday, said government vulcanologist Danilo Bon. This caused the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology to upgrade Mayons status to alert level three, meaning it was critical and might erupt in the near future, Bon said. Provincial Governor Joey Salceda ordered the pre-emptive evacuation of 9,000 families living six to eight kilometres (four to five miles) south of the crater, the local disaster coordinating office said. The military and police have prepared 24 trucks to take them to makeshift evacuation centres, the office added. Bon said the higher alert level did not mean an eruption was inevitable. The volcanos activity could still die down, he said. Mayon, which is also a major tourist attraction, has erupted 48 times since records began, most recently in 2006. According to government seismologists, it has shown abnormal activity since July this year. Its perfect cone rises 2,460 metres (8,070 feet) over the half-submerged belfry of the town of Cagsawa, which was buried in a deadly 1814 eruption.