Mayon spews ashes, residents evacuate


Thousands have evacuated from different towns in Albay after Mayon Volcano spewed ashes as it recorded at least three phreatic eruptions since late Saturday.

A phreatic eruption, also called a phreatic explosion, ultravulcanian eruption or steam-blast eruption, occurs when magma hetas ground or surface water.

The eruptions, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said on Sunday, prompted the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in Albay to issue an evacuation order to residents living within the six to eight kilometer permanent danger zone.

Affected barangay (villages) are Miisi, Banadero and Matnog in Daraga town; Anoling, Quirangay, Tumpa, Suha and Tinubran in Camalig town; Tandarora and Maninila in Guinobatan town; Balingag and Amti in Ligao City; Magapo and Buang in Tabaco City; and Canaway and Calbayog in Malilipot town.

COMING TO LIFE Mayon volcano, enveloped by clouds, spews ash on Sunday, prompting local officials to evacuate residents in three towns and two cities in Albay province. PHOTO BY RHAYDZ BARCIA

Chief Insp. Arthur Gomez, spokesman for the Albay Provincial Police Office, reported that 665 families or 2,287 persons have evacuated from Camalig and Guinobatan.

Gomez said of the 665 families and 2,287 persons, 475 families or 1,576 persons were brought to Guinobatan Elementary Central School; 98 families or 343 persons to Cabangan Elementary School; and 92 families or 368 persons to Anoling Elementary School.

Romina Marasigan, NDRRMC spokesman, said 919 families were moved to four schools in Camalig and Guinobatan.

“What happened was mandatory evacuation… if you would remember, [the Albay local government]already has a contingency plan when it comes to Mayon, so they had conducted drills in case the volcano erupts,” Marasigan told reporters.

“That is why there is no need for forced evacuation since there is already a threat [coming from Mayon]. The communities there were already reminded that when it comes to these activities, they should evacuate immediately,” she said.

According to Marasigan, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), the Albay Public Safety Office and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol had issued the evacuation order.

The evacuation process when it comes to volcanic eruptions is a “little longer” comparedto that enforced when it involves typhoons.

Marasigan said the OCD Bicol regional director initiated a plan for sustaining the needs of evacuees in case their stays in their respective evacuation centers would be extended.

“The Phivolcs cannot say how long the evacuees should stay in the evacuation centers because it might take weeks and it [decision]will always depend on the activity of Mayon Volcano,” she added.

The latest NDRRMC update said no casualties have been recorded because of the phreatic eruptions of the volcano.

Alert Level 2 remained in place as of Sunday, according to Phivolcs.

It reported that at 10:50 a.m. a phreatic eruption occurred at 8:49 a.m., producing a grayish steam and ash plume and lasting for approximately five minutes.

“A sulfurous odor was [also]detected and rumbling sounds were heard by residents of Barangay Anoling, Camalig,” Phivolcs said.

“Alert Level 2 remains in effect over Mayon Volcano, which means that the current unrest is probably of magmatic origin, which could lead to more phreatic eruptions or eventually to hazardous magmatic eruptions,” it added.

Mayon, an active volcano, was placed under “critical” alert when it last spewed white smoke on September 2014 and caused thousands to flee the area.



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