Thursday, 17 October, 2019

Erupting Philippine volcano still swelling with magma below

ALBAY. The surviving walls of the convent at Cagsawa Ruins ALBAY. Mayon usually hides itself behind the veil of clouds
Patty Aguilar | 27 January, 2018, 14:22

Since Monday, Phivolcs hoisted its Alert Level on the volcano from 3 to 4, meaning that the volcano was on the verge of a major disastrous eruption within days or even within hours.

The Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Friday that classes had been suspended in 117 towns and cities near the area and that almost 100 flights had been canceled since January 22, as the community remains braced for disaster.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned on Saturday, January 27, that the heavy rainfall over Albay might trigger lahar flow from Mayon Volcano.

Phivolcs also recorded 15 volcanic earthquakes and 19 "tremor events", seven of these associated with the lava fountaining, as well as "numerous rockfall events" triggered by "the collapsing lava front and margins of the advancing lava flow on the Mi-isi and Bonga Gullies".

"We still have a significant amount within the volcano as it is still inflated", Solidum told reporters in Legazpi city, Albay's capital, where life went on normally within sight of the cloud-shrouded volcano.

In addition to those taking shelter in evacuation centers, she said, almost 12,000 people have gone to stay with friends or relatives, or are staying in tents outside the danger zone, which is considered to be anywhere within eight kilometers of the volcano. Officials are anxious the eruption may last months, affecting the education, health and livelihoods of people in its shadow.

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"Communities and local government units beside these river systems are advised to be additionally vigilant and to move residents to high ground when heavy rains occur", the Phivolcs said. While food supplies are adequate, there are rising concerns about health and hygiene conditions in these camps.

"We remain on red alert", Marasigan told a media briefing, adding that 69,672 evacuees were housed in schools while almost 12,000 took shelter in tents or went to relatives in more secure locations.

Despite warnings from Phivolcs, Albay officials lamented that numerous evacuees continued to return to their homes in violation of the extended eight-kilometre danger zone. A civil defense official in Legazpi told the French news agency AFP that so far there had been no reports of looting.

Evacuees fleeing from the wrath of restive Mayon Volcano in Albay province in the Bicol Region on Friday soared to 81,000 amid warnings from health experts over the emergence of ailments like colds and fever due to overcrowding at the relocation centres.

Mayon has erupted about 50 times in the last 500 years. The Philippines is part of the Pacific "Ring of Fire" of islands that were formed by volcanic activity.

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