LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines?Disaster authorities directed police and military personnel manning various checkpoints to strictly enforce a ban on entry into danger zones around Mayon Volcano as the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) reported a high volume of sulfur dioxide emission, which it said could lead to a sudden explosion.
Eduardo Laguerta, resident volcanologist, said while the number of quakes has decreased, the volume of emission of sulfur dioxide, produced by sulfur burning near the crater of Mayon, has increased sharply.
In the last 24 hours, Laguerta said, the amount of sulfur dioxide released into the air by the volcano reached 1,977 tons per day. The amount of sulfur dioxide that the volcano releases when it is not acting up is an average 500 tons per day.
The Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council said the move was in compliance with the Phivolcs? recommendation that residents and onlookers should not enter the designated permanent danger zone due to an impending eruption.
At least 77 farmers tending their fields on the slopes of the volcano in this city died from sudden pyroclastic flows in 1993 and authorities said they did not want a similar tragedy to happen again.
Cedric Daep, Albay Public Safety and Emergency Office chief, said checkpoints were put up during previous eruptions, which enabled authorities to meet a zero-casualty target.
Checkpoints were established in the villages of Mabinit, Matanag, Buyuan and Bonga in this city.
These areas were declared off-limits to people.
The Phivolcs? latest bulletin said Mayon?s gas ejection slightly fell to 707 tons a day on Tuesday from 915 tons reported on July 30.
However, it jumped to 1,977 tons per day, or more than double, based on Wednesday?s bulletin.
Seismic instruments recorded only two volcanic quakes during Tuesday?s observation period.
Alert Level 2 is still up, meaning the volcano remains in a state of unrest which could lead to ash explosions or expulsion of magma.
Active river channels and areas identified as lahar-prone in the southeast sector should also be avoided, especially during heavy rains. Rey Nasol, Inquirer Southern Luzon