• Phivolcs warns of bigger explosion as Mayon swells

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    LEGAZPI CITY, Albay: Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Wednesday said a bigger explosion is expected from the Mayon Volcano, whose upper slopes have swollen by 4.21 millimeters during the past week.

    Phivolcs senior geologist Wind Sevilla said the increase is a precursor for bigger explosion.

    “Mayon volcano edifice inflated for at least 4.21mm from 3mm for just a week,” he said during a briefing at Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office operation center here.

    Sevilla said the drop of sulfur dioxide (S02) due to clogged vent as well as fast magma push will generate a bigger explosion.

    Ed Laguerta, Phivolcs senior resident volcanologist chief in Bicol, had earlier noted that Mayon’s restiveness is similar to the 1984 scenario when the volcano had a vulcanian type of eruption.

    For 24 days now, Mayon is on a lull but her restiveness is disturbing as the longer repose with continuous swelling of edifice associated with fresh magma build up towards the clogged crater could generate bigger explosion anytime.

    Mayon Volcano’s seismic network detected one rock- fall event during the past 24-hour observation period with weak emission of white steam plumes drifting northwest was observed.

    Sulfur dioxide (SO2) flux was measured at an average of 444 tons per day on Tuesday. Ground deformation data showed continuous inflation at the base of the edifice from August to October precise leveling surveys.

    Sevilla said that like an expectant mother, Mayon is now 17 millimeters “pregnant” as magma continues to ascend towards its portal and she might deliver anytime.

    Sevilla said that combining the inflation of the volcano for the past weeks, the cumulative figure is already 17 mm. When the Phivolcs raised alert level to 3 on September 15, the baseline ground measurement was 10 mm.

    “Could you imagine in just span of almost one week, the volcano inflated by 4.21 millimeters? There is an indication that the magma is continuously ascending to its crater. The swelling of the volcano edifice depends on the volume of magma going up to the crater,” he said.

    “As to the lowering of the volume of sulfur dioxide emission, this is due to the clogged crater. If this cannot come out, it would lead to a big explosion,” he added.

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

    Meanwhile, the United States government has provided P4.4 million to assist dis- placed families.

    “The United States stands ready to help families cope with the challenges posed by the temporary displacement,” said US Ambassador to Manila Philip Goldberg.

    The US Embassy said the nited States Agency for International Development (Usaid) will provide “emergency sanitation, hygiene and non-food items [for]families seeking temporary refuge in evacuation centers” located in the muni-cipalities of Guinobatan, Camalig and Daraga.

    The humanitarian assistance, which will be distributed by World Vision for Usaid, will focus on improving access to safe drinking water, functioning latrines, and tempo-rary classrooms.

    Goldberg supported Salceda’s “zero casualty objective” and commended the “brave” families who participated in the “orderly and successful pre-emptive evacuation”.

    “The US government will continue to monitor the Mayon situation and work with Philippine authorities to help the affected families,” Goldberg said.

    The US government’s disaster-assistance funding to the Philippines over the last 10 years amounted to P8.1 billion.

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