February 25, 2018, 3:55 am
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Lahar threatens villages in Mayon volcano’s slopes


LAHAR flowed down the slopes of Mayon Volcano in Albay province on Saturday, threatening villages near its base, amid rains brought by the tail-end of a cold front, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said yesterday.

Volcanologist Paul Alanis said lahar flow was observed between Miisi and Anoling channels at the town of Daraga in Albay from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Alanis said Phivolcs has yet to monitor another lahar flow until yesterday noon.

However, he said “the possibility of lahar and deposits flowing down again from Mayon remains high, especially if the rain continues.”

Lahar is a mudflow carrying volcanic debris, like rocks, sand and volcanic ash that now thickly cover the slopes of Mayon.

Alanis noted that the river channel, which lies between Camalig and Daraga towns, had collected the highest amount of ash and lava fragments from the eruptions of the volcano.

Phivolcs said the “total volume of pyroclastic density current (PDC) deposits so far deposited on the watershed areas, mostly on the Buyuan and Miisi channel watershed, is approximately nine million cubic meters,” while “the total volume of ashfall on the western sector is roughly 1.5 million cubic meters.”

“These deposits can be remobilized by rainwater and generate lahars by themselves and or by incorporating existing erodible material on channel banks,” it added.

Weather forecaster Shiela Reyes said it has been raining in various parts of the Bicol region, where Albay is located, since Thursday because of the tail-end of a cold-front.

However, she noted that the heaviest rainfall in Albay happened on Saturday.

Reyes said the cold front, which is the merging of cool and warm winds that produces clouds and rains, will continue to bring partly cloudy to cloudy skies with light to moderate rains in the Bicol region until today.

She said the weather will improve in the Bicol region starting Tuesday, when the cold front recedes.

From 12 a.m. to 4 p.m. yesterday, Phivolcs monitored four eruptions in Mayon.

Volcanologist Eric Arconado said the eruptions were observed at 12:45 a.m., 5:36 a.m., 10:33 a.m. and 3:28 p.m.

Arconado said they did not see if the first three explosions generated lava fountain or ash plume since the view of the volcano was obscured by thick clouds.

“But the 3:28 p.m. eruption produced a cloud of gray ash that rose to a height of two kilometers above the crater that drifted southwest,” he noted.

Phivolcs said the Miisi and Bonga lava flows have maintained their advance to three and 1.8 kilometers, respectively, from the summit crater.

As of yesterday noon, Alanis said Mayon has already released about 25.7 million cubic meters of molten rock or lava.

A total of P189,434,666 worth of agricultural products have been damaged in Albay due to Mayon’s eruption, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council said.

Of the total damaged crops, the NDRRMC said rice incurred the heaviest damage at P181,382,970; followed by corn with P7,573,696; and abaca with 478,000.

Mayon’s restiveness has also affected 89,109 individuals or 22,885 families from 59 barangays of Bacacay, Camalig, Guinobatan, Ligao City, Tabaco City, Malilipot, Sto. Domingo, and Legazi City. The affected families are staying in 74 evacuation centers.

Classes in 28 cities and municipalities in Albay and seven in Camarines Sur remain suspended.

President Duterte will visit Legazpi City this week to check on the situation of the communities.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said Duterte is just resting from his trip in India last Jan. 24-26 after contracting a cold.

Roque said as of January 27, about P40.116 million worth of assistance had been provided by government and non-governmental organizations to affected families in Albay.  

He said a Rapid Health Assessment Team composed of 326 doctors, nurses and midwives have been deployed to the evacuation sites in Bacacay, Camalig, Guinobatan, Daraga, Tabaco City, Sto. Domingo, Malilipot, Legazpi City and Ligao City.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said his department is allocating P30 million for emergency employment assistance to workers who have been displaced by the eruption of Mayon Volcano.

Bello said some 7,000 displaced workers have been identified. He said the number would increase if the eruption takes longer.

The emergency employment beneficiaries are set to engage in de-clogging of street canals, cleaning, and clearing of road sidewalks, planting trees, and basic repair of common public facilities, among others, for a period of 30 days.

In return, they are set to receive the minimum wage rate in the region and will be provided social security benefits.

Bello said they are also looking to extend the Government Internship Program (GIP) to the younger generation of evacuees.

The Taguig City government said it will donate P3 million in the form of 3,000 relief goods consisting of hygiene kits, face masks, rice, and canned goods.

Cayetano, who hails from Albay, said the city government yesterday started its medical mission at the Bagumbayan Central School in Legazpi City. Free checkups and medicines were also provided to the residents.

Today, the medical mission will be conducted in Sto. Domingo, Albay. – With Jocelyn Montemayor, Gerard Naval and Evan Orias
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