• Financial aid sought for Mayon evacuees

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    LEGAZPI CITY: The provincial government of Albay is running out of money to feed 11,255 families or 51,963 people at evacuation centers here.

    Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said providing for the needs of the evacuees for the past 12 days has drained the provincial coffers since Mayon Volcano became restive.

    “Our funds are already depleted and will last only until Sunday. Albay is spending P3.5 million a day for the evacuees,” Salceda told reporters in a press briefing on Friday.

    The 51,963 evacuees from the towns of Guinobatan, Camalig, Daraga, Sto. Domingo, Malilipot and cities of Ligao and Tabaco are staying at temporary shelters as monitoring of the volcano’s activity continues.

    “We need P312 million to support the needs of 11,255 families for them to stay at evacuation sites for three months. But if the restiveness of Mayon will prolong therefore we need more funds or assistance from national and international donor institutions to keep them in safer grounds,” Salceda said.

    He said that Mayon evacuees will be automatically Phil-health-covered.

    “PHIC (Philhealth) Pres. Alex Padilla has approved the request of Albay province for automatic sponsorship of Philhealth coverage for all 11,255 families in the evacuation camps,” Salceda said

    Bernardo Rafaelito Alejandro, regional director of the Office of Civil Defense and chairman of Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in Bicol, said  the Department of Social Welfare Department will procure P40 million worth of non-rice assistance for the evacuees while the Department of Education will install 300 temporary classrooms worth P18 million at P60,000 per classroom and 15,000 armchairs for displaced students.

    The 11,255 families from five towns including two cities were forcibly evacuated by government troops after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised the alert status of Mayon from level 2 to level 3 due to intensifying restiveness.

    Ed Laguerta, Phivolcs chief in Bicol, said the activity of Mayon is following the pattern similar to the 1984 eruption. Fresh magma beneath the volcano as hot as 1,200 Celsius is continuously ascending towards the volcano’s crater but currently blocked by giant lava dome.

    “Mayon is ready to erupt anytime. Once the lava dome is completely pushed by strong pressure of magma, a deadly pyroclastic flow will definitely stumble downslope at very speedy velocity,” Laguerta explained.

    Mayon’s seismic network recorded at least nine volcanic earthquakes and six rockfall events during the past 24-hour observation period.

    Weak to moderate emission of white steam plumes drifting southwest was observed. Crater glow was not observed last night. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) flux was measured at an average of 606 tons per day on September 24, lower than the 1,048 tons per day recorded on September 22. Ground deformation data showed no significant change last month based on the September 21 to 23 precise leveling survey although the edifice remains inflated compared to baseline measurements.

    The tilt data also showed continuous inflation at the base of the edifice since last month. All the data indicated that the volcano is still in a state of unrest due to the movement of potentially eruptible magma, Phivolcs said.

    Mayon Volcano’s alert status remains at Alert Level 3. This means that magma is at the crater and that hazardous eruption is possible within weeks.

    Phivolcs strictly recommended that the 6-km radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) around the volcano and the 7-km Extended Danger Zone (EDZ) on the southeastern flank be enforced and no human activity due to the danger of rock falls, landslides and sudden explosions or dome collapse that may generate hazardous volcanic flows.

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