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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Despite Lull Mayon is Still On Alert Level 3 By PhiVolcs

Life goes on in the area where Mayon Volcano towers like a postcard.  On Tuesday, the perfect cone still emitted steam, the ground shook from “small volcanic earthquakes,” and a few incidents of ‘rockfall’ were recorded.  Despite the lull, Alert Level 3 still remains, according to Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs). Meanwhile, regular classes in 90 percent of public schools continue to go on. The Department of Education (DepEd), in its official Twitter account @DepEd_PH, DepEd, announced that “648 out of 724 or 90 percent of public schools continue with regular classes in Albay province despite Alert Level 3 status of Mayon [volcano].”
State volcanologists said those events could indicate that the active volcano may still erupt in a matter of weeks. Mayon still remains under Alert Level 3 despite a lull in seismic activity and rockfall events in the past days, according to Philvocs Director Dr. Renato Solidum.  He added that the volcano’s activity is still within the set parameters for Alert Level 3.
He said that although Mayon Volcano has quieted down a bit, there is no immediate plan to downgrade its current alert status, or neither will it be raised soon.
Philvocs’ Solidum noted that “it is possible that there are abnormal activities within the volcano that is not seen at the summit,” thus the volcano could still be building up strength. 

Meanwhile, at the evacuation centers, the skills of workers are being profiled by the “Quick React Team” from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in preparation for offering livelihood grants.
As of Tuesday, Mayon Volcano manifested three volcanic earthquakes and 18 rockfall events, during a 24-hour observation period.
Likewise, weak to moderate emission of white steam plumes drifting east-northeast, northeast and southwest was observed.
The emission of sulfur dioxide was also observed at an average of 1,048 tons/day, but lower than 2,360 tons/day last September 6.
Mayon’s alert status was raised to Alert Level 3 last Sept. 15. Under Alert Level 3, a volcano’s magma is at the crater and that hazardous eruption is possible within weeks.
Phivolcs continues to enforce the six-kilometer permanent danger zone around the volcano and seven-extended danger zone on the southeastern flank of Mayon.The agency said villages on the southeastern side of the volcano are at risk of rock fall, landslides and sudden explosions or dome collapse that may generate hazardous volcanic flows.
Meanwhile, evacuation centers in 37 schools in five towns and two cities in Albay are being co-managed by school personnel as of Sept. 22, DepEd said.
“Daily tracking of all students by grade level is being done by school personnel,” said DepEd Assistant Secretary Rey Laguda.
The department is also “coordinating with UNICEF and Albay LGU for the deployment of 155 tents for schools used as evacuation centers.” A total of 39 schools in Camalig, Daraga, Guinobatan, Ligao, Malilipot, Sto Domingo, and Tabaco remain closed due to evacuation declared by LGUs as of Sept. 23.
Laguda added that DepEd divisions of Albay, Legaspi, Tabaco and Ligao work in close coordination with LGUs. They “continue to work towards class resumption in affected schools.”
“Class resumption efforts underway using different strategies,” Laguda said. In San Jose Elementary School in Malilipot for instance, the school is taking in Calbayog ES pupils. “Combined, 1,238 students [were] asked to report for accounting while 18 tents [are] being set-up,” he added.
Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said yesterday that the DoLE Regional Office No.5 has already mobilized the “Eruption Assistance Team.’
“The DoLE regional office in Bicol has reported to me that it has already activated its Quick Reaction Team, the ‘Eruption Assistance Team,’ to profile the skills of workers in the evacuation sites in Guinobatan, Malilipot, Camalig, the cities of Ligao and Tabaco, and Daraga,” she said. That will guide the team to draw up the specific form of assistance for possible worker-victims if Mayon Volacano erupts.
Assistant Regional Director Karina Perdia-Trayvilla said the DoLE regional office will also provide assistance to evacuees under the DOLE’s Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (DILEEP), specifically under the Tulong Pangkabuhayan for Displaced Workers (TUPAD).  (With a report from Ellaine Dorothy S. Cal)
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