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Powerful explosions rocked Mount Pinatubo volcano for a second day yesterday in what scientists said was the ``big bang'' they had been expecting. Six major explosions have been recorded by the Philippine volcanology institute since the 5,725-foot volcano began erupting Wednesday after lying dormant for 611 years.

Relief officials said 34,974 people had fled to evacuation centers in nine towns. At least two eruption-related deaths have been reported so far.

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Heavy rains from a tropical storm approaching the Philippines could trigger mudflows on the erupting volcano, volcanology and weather bureau officials said yesterday. The storm is expected to hit by the weekend.

The United States denied a report yesterday it had ordered a nuclear alert at Clark Air Base, which was threatened by the volcano.

The US evacuated some 15,000 US troops, civilian employees and dependents from Clark to the Subic Bay Naval Station on Wednesday for fear the air base would be buried in a major eruption of the volcano, which is 8 miles (12 km) to the west of the installation.

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