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By Rey M. Nasol
Inquirer Southern Luzon
First Posted 00:57:00 12/15/2009
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay, Philippines— (UPDATE 3) Albay Governor Salceda has recommended the immediate evacuation of 47,285 residents (9,946 families) from 45 villages around Mayon Volcano on Tuesday morning after Mayon’s alert level was raised from 2 to 3 Monday night.
The preemptive evacuation will cover Tabaco City, and the towns of Malilipot, Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan and Ligao, Office of Civil Defense-5 director Raffy Alejandro said in a phone interview.
The figure comes from a total of 20 villages composed of 2,728 families or 12,803 people within the six-kilometer permanent danger zone, said Cristina Ador, statistician of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office.
She added that there are also 25 villages with 7,218 families or 34,482 persons at the 6- to 8-km extended danger zones at the southeast quadrant of Mayon affected by the evacuation orders.
As of 10 a.m. Tuesday, at least 1,801 families or 7,881 persons have evacuated from the villages of Quirangay, Sua, Cabangan, Tumpa, Salugan and Anoling in Camalig town, Ador said.
In the municipality of Daraga, at least 810 families or 4100 people have been evacuated from the villages of Banadero and Matnog.
The PDCC is still awaiting the statistics of evacuees from the towns of Guinobatan, Ligao and Camalig where ashfalls were also reported, Ador said.
Glowing lava fragments were seen continuously detaching from the crater of the volcano, which came to rest on the upper and middle slopes, about 3 km from the summit, said a bulletin from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology during the past 24-hour observation period.
Seismographs recorded 83 volcanic earthquakes compared to 43 on Monday while the sulfur dioxide emission rate increased to 757 tons per day from the previous 535, the bulletin added.
During the emergency meeting of the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council and the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council on Tuesday morning, all municipal or city and barangay (village) disaster coordinating councils around Mayon have been ordered to immediately convene and activate emergency operation and execute evacuation procedures.
Officials asked affected households to prepare emergency provisions like clothing, basic utensils, and beddings.
The joint AFP-PNP Task Force Mayon was tasked to assist in the evacuation of the population involved and strictly enforce checkpoints at strategic areas to ensure that nobody enters the danger zone at any time.
“A major eruption of Mayon might occur within the period of two weeks if ever the abnormalities would continue and further intensify,” said Alex Baloloy, science research analyst.
He said a team of geologists, volcanologists and other scientists from the central office in Diliman, Quezon City just arrived this morning to help the observatory center closely monitor Mayon.
Mayon Carlos Baldo of Camalig, one of the Albay towns affected, told the joint PDCC-RDCC meeting that residents in affected barangays are now at the holding areas and awaiting transportation support for the massive evacuation efforts.
In Guinobatan town, Mayor Juan Garcia appealed for dust masks and evacuation vehicles as the volume of ashes that fell on the town last night seemed like “we were having a white Christmas.”
In a telephone interview, Phivolcs director Renato Solidum said the towns of Bonga, Mabingit, and Buyuan are the ones in immediate danger due to the direction of the lava flow.
Solidum added that there is a possibility that the alert level would be raised even higher if Mayon Volcano will show hazardous explosions.
“We cannot estimate if there will be a bigger explosion but as long as there is lava coming out of the volcano, then there is a possibility that the alert level will be raised higher,” he said..
He noted that in Mayon Volcano’s history, most eruptions are explosive in nature.
Meanwhile, Phivolcs has recommended the evacuation of residents living within the 6-kilometer permanent danger zone around the volcano and local authorities and the provincial disaster coordinating council have implemented the preemptive measure.
“What we recommend, they (local officials) follow,” Solidum said.
The Phivolcs chief said that most of the earthquakes recorded between 8 a.m. Monday until 8 a.m. Tuesday were due to “falling lava fragments.”
“From time to time you will see incandescent lava fragments rolling on the south east side of the volcano,” Solidum told INQUIRER.net.
Scientists are now collating the ash explosion intervals, aside from sulfur dioxide emissions, volcanic quakes, crater glows, “bulging” of the slopes and steaming activities.
Prior to this Monday’s episode, the seismic network around Mayon Volcano recorded an explosion-type earthquake at 7:59 p.m. on Friday, which lasted for three minutes.
Phivolcs’ Monday bulletin said its seismographs recorded 43 volcanic quakes, the highest number of such quakes since alert level 2 was raised last July 10 this year.
“But sulfur dioxide emission registered only 535 tons per day, a bit higher than the minimum of 500 tons per day and is causing us a special concern to reconsider all the available parameters pertaining to Mayon’s abnormalities,” science research analyst Alex Baloloy said.
He added that the intervals between minor ash explosions that Mayon manifested in the past weeks were considered a new parameter that might warrant raising alert status from level 2 to level 3.
Baloloy said residents along the volcano’s slopes such as in Camalig town at the western side, part of Daraga at the southwestern side, and this city claimed they heard rumbling sounds during the explosion.
Katherine Evangelista, INQUIRER.net