Residents, authorities keep close watch on restive Mayon
The majestic Mayon volcano, with its awe-inspiring beauty and occasional fiery outbursts, has recently caught the attention of locals and authorities alike due to its continuing signs of restlessness.
With a history of sporadic outbursts, the Mayon volcano has captured the undivided attention of experts and local authorities. These vigilant overseers proactively work to keep nearby Albay communities safe and well-informed.
On Wednesday, June 7, at 11:35 p.m., photographer Marie Teth Balunso from Pitik Singkit captured images revealing a faint glow emerging from the summit crater of the Mayon volcano.
The growing lava dome within the crater teetered on the brink of collapse, threatening to uncork an avalanche of pyroclastic flows and rocks crashing down the volcano’s inclines.
In a Facebook video shared by netizen Arren Christian Ventura, the volcano emitted ash plumes, as seen from their residence in Barangay 49-Bigaa, Legazpi City, Albay, early morning on Thursday, June 8.
Ventura told the Inquirer in an interview that he and his family were in good condition. However, they had already experienced ashfalls as a result of the abnormal volcanic activity.
Rev. Fr. Paulo B. Barandon of Barangay Bonga in Bacacay town also captured photos of Mt. Mayon at 6:23 a.m. on Thursday, showing steam-rich plumes from the volcano’s summit crater.
At the observation deck of a hostel in Legazpi City, photographer John Gochenouer recorded a captivating spectacle as an airplane boldly crossed paths with the rumbling Mayon volcano on Thursday morning.
Gochenouer, a retired professor from the U.S. who is now a permanent resident of the Philippines, filmed the video using a professional camera at approximately 2500mm zoom level.
He told the Inquirer that the airplane’s speed in the video was reduced to 35 percent, allowing it to remain in the frame longer. After the plane passed the volcano, the footage was sped up to show the subsequent massive eruption.
Gochenouer has been providing updates on Mayon’s heightened volcanic activity, including videos of rockfall events for the past few days.
Mayon at Alert Level 3
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised the volcano’s status to Alert Level 3 at noon on Thursday, citing the possibility of “potential explosive activity happening within days or weeks.”
In response, the local government of Albay ordered the mandatory evacuation of residents within the six-kilometer radius permanent danger zone (PDZ) as soon as possible.
Since then, residents and local government units in the province have expressed concern and vigilance as the volcano has continued to emit steam-laden plumes.
Nehemiah Manzanilla Sitiar, a local photographer from Daraga, Albay, captured photos showing the Mayon volcano shrouded in billowing smoke a few hours after Phivolcs raised the volcano’s alert status.
Sitiar told the Inquirer in a separate interview about a series of rockfall events and ashfalls caused by the restive volcano. He also noted that the smell of sulfur from Mt. Mayon had begun to envelop neighboring towns.
Marites Arce, a resident of Legazpi City, uploaded a video on Facebook on Thursday showing houses, vehicles, and plants covered in ash due to the degassing activity of the Mayon volcano.
On Thursday night, public school teacher James Albert Polero witnessed a glowing spectacle as the volcano spewed lava around 8:30 p.m., accompanied by more prominent incandescent rockfalls.
Following the declaration of Alert Level 3 for Mayon, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. assured reporters in an ambush interview that relevant government offices are ready to handle potential disasters in the event of eruptions from both Mayon and Taal volcanoes.
On Thursday, the Department of Health warned residents near the Mayon volcano about the effects of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions and ashfall, advising those with existing respiratory problems to avoid exposure to volcanic ash.
In response to the volcano’s unrest, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) spokesperson Raffy Alejandro IV stated that preparations had been made for the “worst-case scenario” in the event of an eruption.
According to an Inquirer report on Friday, the OCD allocated approximately P250 million for the Mayon volcano response and around P108 million worth of commodities.
Glowing amid eruption threat
On Friday night, social media user Arren Christian Ventura shared thrilling close-up snaps of the Mayon volcano exhibiting a crater glow or “banaag” in its summit lava dome.
“Okay naman po kami rito. Tsaka kapag nag-Alert Level 4 [na po ang Mayon], pinapa-evacuate na rin po kami. Pinapauna [lang po] muna ‘yung mga nasa 6-kilometer danger zone,” Ventura told the Inquirer.
(We’re okay here. Once Mayon reaches Alert Level 4, we will also be evacuated. Those within the 6-kilometer danger zone are prioritized for evacuation.)
During a recent interview on ANC, Phivolcs Director Teresito Bacolcol explained that the observed “crater glow” above the Mayon volcano indicates the emission of superheated gas from the crater, which produces the glow.
“A new summit lava dome in the Mayon Volcano Crater emerges as its pre-existing one has been pushed out in increments that formed rockfall on the first week of June 2023,” the Phivolcs stated in an update on Saturday, June 10.
As of 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 11, a continuous lava flow could be seen from the Mayon volcano, captivating onlookers as molten lava cascaded down its slopes.
On Monday, June 12, the volcanology institute issued a bulletin noting that it had recorded 21 volcanic earthquakes, 260 rockfall events, and three pyroclastic density current events from the Mayon volcano in the last 24-hour period based on seismic and visual observations.