Government agencies gird for possible eruption of Mayon
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay, Philippines — National and local agencies pressed preparation for a possible eruption of Mayon Volcano in Albay province after one volcanic earthquake and 177 rockfall events on Sunday.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the volcano emitted 1,205 tons of toxic sulfur dioxide on Saturday as it continued to exhibit “intensified unrest.”
Mayon is the most active volcano in the country and residents are accustomed to frequent restiveness and minor eruptions.
But Phivolcs raised Alert Level 3 on Thursday, indicating a high level of unrest and the possibility of a hazardous eruption within weeks or even days.
The agency reiterated its warning for people to evacuate and stay away from the Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ), 6 kilometers around the volcano.
The Phivolcs also observed a fair glow from a new lava dome at the summit.
“Thin ash from the rockfalls and continuous moderate degassing from the summit crater produced steam-laden plumes that were bent and crept downslope before drifting to the southeast,” the Phivolcs said in its 8 a.m. bulletin.
The Department of Health (DOH) also repeated its warning that sulfur dioxide is a toxic gas that affects humans, animals and plants.
Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said in an online press briefing on Sunday that the DOH elevated its alert level to Code Blue in all hospitals in Albay.
Herbosa said 167 health workers have been deployed to 18 evacuation centers while medical teams from the DOH main office are set to be deployed.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Albay also reminded vendors of basic commodities to comply with the price freeze that went into effect when Albay was placed under a state of calamity on Friday.
“DTI Albay reminds all concerned establishments to comply with the provisions of the Price Act wherein prices of basic necessities are automatically frozen at its prevailing prices for the period of 60 days,” the agency said in a social media post on Sunday.
As of Sunday noon, the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office and local governments had already evacuated 3,658 families, or 12,291 individuals, from affected cities and towns.
Based on initial data, about 500 farmers were directly affected by the volcano’s activity, mostly farmers living inside the PDZ in the cities of Ligao, Legazpi and Tabaco and towns of Guinobatan, Camalig, Daraga, Sto. Domingo and Malilipot.
To help the affected farmers, Albay provincial agriculturist Cheryll Rebeta said the capitol has begun buying farm produce from within the PDZ.