Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Mayon Spews Out Lava Raising Eruption Fears
Lava flow was observed at the restive Mayon Volcano yesterday morning, raising fears an eruption could be imminent, authorities said.
Resident volcanologist Ed Laguerta said the lava flow started at around 5 a.m. yesterday at the eastern side of the Bonga Gully, or facing the Legazpi City side of the volcano.
Based on the latest measurement, the lava flow was at 350 meters long from the summit.
“The quiet and sluggish lava flow, along with the data that we have been receiving from our instruments, indicates a pressure build-up under,” Laguerta said in a phone interview.
The only activity missing, according to Laguerta, is increased seismic activity that would complement the lava flow that was monitored yesterday.
“If there would be an increased seismic activity, then we may upgrade the alert status to Alert Level 4,” said Laguerta.
Alert Level 4 means that a hazardous eruption is imminent within days. Currently, Mayon Volcano is under Alert Level 3 which means high unrest.
When pressed on the possibility of the eruption, Laguerta talked about his personal experience as resident volcanologist for Mayon Volcano for more than two decades.
“Based on my experience, this quiet, non-explosive lava flow usually lead to eruption in just a matter of few days,” he said.
Laguerta’s observation was backed up by Renato Solidum, director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) who said that the quiet lava flow yesterday is a manifestation of high unrest inside the volcano.
“What is happening now at the Mayon Volcano area is that magma is ascending into the summit, but it’s very slow,” said Solidum.
“In many eruptions of Mayon, lava flow eruption would essentially transition to an explosive phase,” he said.
Following yesterday’s “soft eruption,” the natural response is to evacuate all the people in the danger zones, especially in the second and first district areas of Albay.
But Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said evacuation is something they no longer worry about since they have already completed the task long ago.
“We have long prepared for this. Residents of the most prone areas if there would be an eruption are now in the evacuation centers,” said Salceda.
More than 12,500 families, or more than 55,000 people, are currently housed in 48 evacuation centers in Albay.
The evacuation of the residents started since Phivolcs raised the alert warning to Alert Level 3 over Mayon.
At noon yesterday, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin led an aerial survey of Mayon Volcano on board two SOKOL choppers.
During the briefing before the takeoff, Roxas and Gazmin could not help but joked about the flight briefing by one of the pilots.
“This is the first time that we were briefed about the helicopter flight. Dati bahala na si Batman,” said Roxas.
Roxas appeared to be referring to the incident in Marawi City wherein one of the two SOKOL choppers they were using crashed a few minutes after the takeoff.
Aside from the two, also present here during the briefing were Health Secretary Enrico Ona, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
In a related development, some P9.4-million worth of food packs and non-food items were delivered to Guinobatan, Albay, via the Ligtas Mayon Caravan organized by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and other member-agencies of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
A fleet of 36 trucks from DSWD and the military left DSWD-National Resource Operations Center (NROC) past noon last Saturday. It was expected to arrive in Guinobatan early yesterday.
Trucks carrying water containers, hygiene and family kits, and essential medicines from the Department of Health were also delivered.
The caravan will provide augmentation support to the resources of the provincial government of Albay for the evacuees.
Meanwhile, Malacañang said the government has laid down an “integrated, coordinated assistance” plan for Albay province to make sure nobody will be left behind in case of an eruption.
President Aquino wanted to ensure the safety and protection of the Albay residents as Cabinet members were deployed to Albay to oversee the disaster preparedness and relief operations, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said yesterday.
The Cabinet group, including Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Lacierda, also checked on the situation of the evacuees from the restive volcano.
“The President emphasized the whole of government approach to assisting the provincial government and the affected residents who are now in the evacuation centers,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda said the Palace also commended the preparations made by Salceda and other local government officials “to hopefully ensure zero casualty.”
Salceda, speaking to the Mayon evacuees, has assured that the President has promised the supply of relief goods for the next three months. “Albay Governor Salceda explaining to his provincemates PNoy’s commitment to provide prepositioned goods for 90 days,” Lacierda said on Twitter.
The 2,460-meter Mayon has a long history of deadly eruptions. Four foreign tourists and their local tour guide were killed when Mayon last erupted, in May, 2013.
In 1814, more than 1,200 people were killed when lava flows buried the town of Cagsawa.
An explosion in August, 2006 did not cause direct deaths, but four months later a typhoon unleashed an avalanche of volcanic mud from Mayon’s slopes that killed 1,000 people.
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