• Phivolcs raises Alert Level 3 on Mayon; 72 rockfalls recorded

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    LEGAZPI CITY: The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised Mayon Volcano’s alert status to Alert Level 3 at 10 p.m. Monday.

    Phivolcs resident volcanologist Ed Laguerta said this means that magma is at the crater and that hazardous eruption is possible within weeks.

    “It is recommended that the six-km radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) around the volcano and the 7-km Extended Danger Zone (EDZ) on the southeastern flank be enforced due to the danger of rock falls, landslides and sudden explosions or dome collapse that may generate hazardous volcanic flows,” he said.

    Laguerta said the agency seismic network recorded 32 volcanic earthquakes and 72 rock fall events during the past 24-hour observation period.

    He added that Intensity III (bright) crater glow was visible Monday night, although rain clouds prevented visual observation of the crater during the day.

    “The rolling incandescent rockfall within the uppermost reaches of the Bonga Gully last night indicates that the summit lava dome is breaching the crater in its southeastern side,” the volcanologist said, saying that sulfur dioxide (SO2) flux was measured at an average of 611 tons/day on Sept. 2.

    Ground deformation data showed inflationary changes in the edifice from February based on precise leveling surveys on the third week of August, and edifice inflation from January 2012 baselines based on continuous tilt measurement.

    “All the above data indicate that the volcano is exhibiting relatively high unrest due to the movement of potentially eruptible magma,” Laguerta said.

    Albay Gov. Joey Salceda has ordered the forced evacuation of at least 10,000 affected residents and the no-human activity order withing the six-kilometer PDZ.

    Based on the latest aerial survey and after the raising of Alert 2, authorities noted the entry of about 300 residents within the area although they had been evacuated already.

    “There are residents who took advantage of the temporary lull in the volcano’s activity since its eruption in 2009,” Salceda noted.

    Since Alert 2 was raised on Aug. 15, the province has been training officials in affected municipalities and barangays.

    These local government units (LGUs) are the cities of Legazpi, Tabaco and Ligao, and the towns of Guniobatan, Camalig, Daraga, Sto. Domingo and Malilipot.

    Salceda also ordered these LGUs to conduct emergency meetings for the evacuation of the villagers within the six-km PDZ to eight-km EDZ.

    “We will enforce the cluster approach in the management of the evacuation camps, like what we organized and trained for such event in 2009,” he did.

    The Albay governor said he recommended to the Department of Education (DepEd) to come up already with emergency plans for the affected schools and students.

    Salceda said that during disasters, the rights of the evacuees are superior to the rights of schoolchildren as guidance.

    “The province-owned permanent evacuation centers in Gogon, Daraga nd Guinobatan can no longer be used as classrooms starting today,” he said, adding “Moreover, there may be a need to use more schools to accommodate the evacuees from the 6km-8km EDZ.”

    He has instructed the DepEd to institute measures to minimize disruption of learning, instruction and schooling for those affected barangays and host schools.

    “Those living in the area southeast of Mayon are advised to prepare moist cloths to cover their faces and noses in preparation for the ash falls,” Salceda said.

    He ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Provincial Engineering Office and other members of the emergency team to ensure the availability of vehicles for evacuation and other activities needing transport and dispatch these to the Provincial Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council Operation Center for immediate dispatch in case of need.

    The PDRRMC, Albay Provincial Safety and Emergency Management Office, and the mayors of the affected cities and municipalities will have an emergency meeting at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday.

    In response to the Mayon Level 3 alert, the Guinobatan DRRMC has evacuted 28 families (120 persons) living within the 6-km PDZ in Barangay Muladbucad Grande Monday night, according to Mayor Gemma Ongjoco. PNA

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