Albay gears up for evacuation as Mt. Mayon remains restless

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A mother and son drying up salted fishes along the river in Legazpi City, Albay on Sunday with the world famous Mount Mayon in the background. PHOTO BY RHAYDZ BARCIA

A mother and son drying up salted fishes along the river in Legazpi City, Albay on Sunday with the world famous Mount Mayon in the background. PHOTO BY RHAYDZ BARCIA

LEGAZPI CITY, Albay: Gov. Joey Salceda on Sunday ordered the inventory of classrooms that can be used as evacuation centers as Mount Mayon continues to be restless.

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Salceda’s directive to local government units came after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised the alert status of Mount Mayon from Level 1 to 2 due to abnormal activities of the volcano.

He also wants local officials across the province to assess the classrooms, water, toilet facilities including solid and liquid waste disposal system, communal kitchen, medical station with provision for normal spontaneous delivery, breastfeeding corner and recreational space to ensure the comfort of evacuees in times of natural eventuality here.

He also reactivated the health emergency teams to the different local government units to be affected by the eruption.

The activation of health emergency teams composed of rapid health assessment team, medical team, Speed team, mental health and psychosocial team (MHPSS) nutrition team, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) team, health promotion team, and assignment of ALbay HEMS Emergency Officers on duty at the Albay Operation Center (OpCen) is done early on so that all disaster responders will be ready before the possible hazardous explosion of Mayon Volcano.

Phivolcs chief Ed Laguerta said that increasing volcanic gas emission and slight but persistent swelling due to the intrusion of magma beneath the volcano is exhibited while sulfur dioxide is measured at an average of 850 tons per day from 500 tons per day for the past two months now.

Phivolcs monitoring for the past 24-hour observation period Mayon volcano’s seismic network recorded three rock fall events.

Moderate emission of white steam plumes that drifted southeast was observed. Crater glow could not be observed due to thick rain clouds that covered the summit despite the emergence of a lava dome at the crater.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) flux was measured at an average of 850 tons/day on August 11 and at levels beyond the baseline level of 500 tons/day for the past two months.

Ground deformation data showed inflationary changes in the edifice from February 2014 based on precise levelling surveys in the second week of June 2014, and edifice inflation from January 2012 baselines based on continuous tilt measurement.

“All the above data indicate that the volcano may have been experiencing increased volcanic gas emission and slight but persistent swelling due to the intrusion of magma beneath,” Laguerta explained.

Mayon Volcano’s alert Level 2 status means that magma has most likely intruded at depth and that current conditions could eventually lead to a larger eruption. The public is strongly advised to be vigilant and to desist from entering the six kilometer-radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) to minimize risks from sudden explosions, rockfall and landslides.

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