LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines?Plans to move out up to 300,000 people were put in place in Albay starting on Tuesday as the province went on high alert for a coming storm and possible lahar flows from the restive Mayon Volcano.
?In a worse-case scenario for a typhoon and Mayon?s eruption, we would evacuate 150,000 to 300,000 persons,? said Cedric Daep, director of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (Apsemo). ?But with lahar, the number could climb even higher.?
Gov. Joey Salceda said he had ordered all workers at disaster operation centers to report for work 24 hours.
Officials were to conduct an aerial survey around Mayon?s crater, but their mission was cancelled due to thick clouds.
?We have been waiting for a chance to get a clear view of Mayon?s crater to conduct the aerial survey since the last one conducted sometime in August after alert level 2 was declared on July 3 this year,? said resident volcanologist Eduardo Laguerta.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said a lava dome had already formed in the crater. It causes the glow that is visible at night.
An aerial survey has to be conducted so scientists could check how big the dome has grown.
Salceda said the emergence of a new storm threat prompted him to call for a meeting of the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) Tuesday at 8 a.m. at the Apsemo.
?While it is still 2,600 kilometers away, Albay must prepare early since typhoons at this time (last three months of the year) have historically southern tracks,? he said.
Satellite forecasts showed the tropical cyclone (local name: ?Santi?) has a potential strength of 185 km per hour upon landfall.
Recent typhoons had a heavy rainfall content and this could be complicated by lahar from Mayon.
During the PDCC meeting, Daep recalled that Supertyphoon ?Reming? in 2006 had flooded communities with 198,000 houses across the province.
?Santi is feared to affect electricity, water supply, bridges, schools, government and private facilities,? Daep said.
Daep said mud flows might displace at least 15,000 people.
He added that flash floods had validated the location of threatened areas in 116 barangays. Storm surges threaten coastal areas, especially if the new storm passes through Albay.
The Pagasa office in Legazpi promised to deliver hourly rainfall monitoring reports.
?For a zero casualty plan, the requirements are: Pagasa bulletins, data on population at risk, list of safe evacuation centers, warning and evacuation plan and disaster operation centers (DOCs) are activated for 24-hour operations once an emergency situation is declared,? Salceda said.
The Phivolcs bulletin on Tuesday showed an abrupt increase in the number of both low- and high-frequency earthquakes near Mayon during the past 24-hour observation period.
Laguerta noted a total of 30 volcanic quakes, way higher than the six earthquakes recorded during the past 48 hours.
In August, scientists kept watch for a feared collapse of a portion of Mayon?s crater, which holds an estimated 200,000 cubic feet of rocks. Rey M. Nasol, Inquirer Southern Luzon