May 27, 2018, 10:11 pm
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Mayon danger zone widens: Officials brace for violent eruption

ALBAY local officials yesterday widened the danger zone around Mayon Volcano, resulting in the displacement of more than 56,000 people as Mayon, on the brink of a violent eruption, continued to spew clouds of ash and spout fountains of lava. 

Mayon was still at Alert Level 4 (imminent eruption) yesterday, one notch lower than Level 5 or eruption in progress. Mayon’s last eruption was in 2014.

As of 2 p.m. yesterday, the Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said 14,241 families or 56,217 persons have been evacuated from the cities of Legazpi, Ligao, and Tabaco, and towns of Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, Malilipot and Sto. Domingo.

The evacuees, who are from 46 affected barangays, are housed in 46 evacuation centers where government workers are attending to their needs.

Local officials have evacuated those living within the eight-kilometer danger zone and additional one-kilometer buffer zone to ensure the safety of people in case of a hazardous explosion, said Cedric Daep, chief of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office.

“We’re evacuating people in the eight-kilometer danger zone, with an additional one kilometer buffer zone. This is to ensure that we are ready in case of hazardous explosion,” Daep said.

Romina Marasigan, spokesperson of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said under Alert Level 4, only residents in the eight-kilometer danger zone should be evacuated.

“But the local government increased it to nine kilometers. This is the call of the LGUs (local government units),” said Marasigan.

Al Francis Bichara, Albay’s governor and chairman of its disaster agency, said he had suspended office work in three towns due to the thick ashfall.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said it shut down the Legazpi Airport in Albay province because of ashfall, affecting nine international and 16 domestic flights.
 
VIOLENT ERUPTION

Volcanologist Paul Alanis said Mayon remains on the brink of a violent eruption since its activity “seems to be escalating rather than weakening.”

“Right now, there is no indication that the activity of Mayon is subduing,” he said. 

Volcanologists monitored two eruptions, two rockfalls and lava fountaining yesterday.

The first explosion occurred at 8:54 a.m. and resulted in an ash column about five kilometers above the summit.

The second, at 1:16 p.m., ejected a three-kilometer-high ash cloud and generated a pyroclastic density current (PDC) along the Miisi gully.

Lava collapses also produced two rockfalls.

At 5:55 p.m., a lava fountain reaching 600 meters and generating a three-kilometer-high ash cloud was observed. 

Marasigan said the NDRRMC continues to prepare to send additional relief goods for the evacuees.

“About 8,300 additional food packs arrived Albay today. We are going to add more (relief goods). We are prepositioning more relief goods in Albay,” she said.

The Diocese of Legazpi City appealed to the public to open their homes to evacuees, aside from providing relief supplies.

“If for whatever reason, this is not possible, can we at least consider allowing those in evacuation centers to use our toilets and bathrooms?” Legazpi City Bishop Joel Baylon said in a diocesan circular.

He said there is a need to decongest the evacuation centers, especially as 30 to 40 families sometimes share a classroom that is ideal for only eight to 10 families.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the budget department released last January 22 the internal revenue allotment (IRA) for January of local government units in the Bicol region, including their respective contingency funds which could be tapped to assist the affected communities. – With Ashzel Hachero, Jocelyn Montemayor, Angela Lopez de Leon and Reuters
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