Lava flows from Mayon Volcano

Posted at 12/15/09 12:50 AM

Evacuation ordered after Phivolcs raises alert to 3

MANILA, Philippines - The provincial government of Albay on Monday evening said they will implement mandatory evacuations at the 6-8 kilometer danger zone around Mayon Volcano, after the state geological agency Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised the volcano's alert level to 3.

Since Monday morning, the Phivolcs has recorded six small ash explosions from the volcano, and at around 6 p.m. lava started flowing out of the crater.

Alert Level 3 was raised by the geological agency at around 8 p.m.

Jaime Sincioco, officer-in-charge of the Phivolcs' Volcano Monitoring and Eruption Prediction Division, said that this means magma is now near the top of the crater and incandescent materials are now detaching.

In an interview with dzMM Monday evening, Phivolcs director Dr. Renato Solidum said Mayon Volcano is now at a "high level of unrest."

At Alert Level 3, he said Mayon Volcano may soon have more dangerous explosions.

He said they will be monitoring whether Mayon Volcano will have lava flowing slowly or strong explosions and pyroclastic flows.

Likewise, at Alert Level 3, he said the provincial government will have to evacuate households in areas under threat.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda announced the mandatory evacuations for the 6-8 kilometer danger zone starting Tuesday morning.

The danger zone covers parts of the cities of Legazpi, Tabaco and Ligao, and the towns of Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, Santo Domingo, Bacacay, and Malilipot.

Classes in schools within the danger zone will also be suspended.

Evacuations set

As of Monday evening, residents within the danger zone are preparing for evacuation.

In Legazpi City alone, around 3,000 families will be evacuated.

Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal said that they are mobilizing the city's disaster coordinating council to prepare all needed equipment and supplies for the evacuation efforts.

Salceda, in an interview with TV Patrol World, said that around 9,000 families will be evacuated from the danger zone.

The Phivolcs is monitoring the volcano round the clock, and a technical team will be sent to the city for additional manpower at the Legazpi Observatory in Lignon Hill.

Since September this year, several ash explosions by the volcano have been recorded by scientists.

Mayon's unrest, eruptions

The last lava flows by the volcano, meanwhile, were last recorded between July and August 2006.

Under Mayon Volcano's alert levels, level 3 means "increased tendency towards eruption," and if unrest increases, hazardous eruption is possible within weeks.

The next level, alert level 4, means hazardous eruption is imminent or possible within days.

The highest level, alert level 5, means hazardous eruption is ongoing.

According to Phivolcs, Mayon Volcano's most destructive eruption was in February 1, 1814 when 1,200 people died after large parts of Albay, including Cagsawa Church, were buried by lava.

In June-July 1897, 350 people died due to pyroclastic flows after another destructive eurption of Mayon Volcano that lasted 17 hours. -- With reports from Jose Carretero, ABS-CBN Legazpi, and Jam Alindogan, ABS-CBN News in Manila