Search on for survivors in Mayon ‘steam explosion’
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay—Two military helicopters and at least 70 specially trained individuals have joined search-and-rescue teams looking for mountain climbers and their guides who were believed trapped on the slopes of Mayon Volcano after a series of ash and steam explosions, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said.
The governor, who was overseeing the search-and-rescue effort, said their priority was to rescue the survivors, the injured and retrieve the bodies of those who perished.
He said that of the five persons believed to have died in what volcanologists called “phreatic event,” only one was so far identified, a mountaineering guide identified only as “Jerome.”
The governor said the five fatalities were among two groups—not three as earlier reported—of 27 mountaineers who went up Mt. Mayon between Monday and early Tuesday.
The mountaineers were in Camp 2, located about 3,000 feet from the foot of volcano, when the explosions occurred at around 8 a.m. Tuesday, he said.
Salceda said the fatalities could have been hit by falling rocks.
According to the governor, the group that climbed Mt. Mayon from the town of Sto. Domingo, started their ascent late Monday but no specific time was given.
Salceda said there was not much information about the group that assaulted the mountain from the town of Malilipot because they did not inform the local authorities of their climb. Those who died were from the Malilipot group of climbers.
The Malilipot group was from the Bicol Adventure and Travel Tours owned by Marty Calleja, Salceda said.
Dorothy Fernandez Colle, head of the Albay tourism office, said the Malilipot group had no accredited tour guide with them.
Salceda once again advised Mt. Mayon climbing enthusiasts to first seek permission from the provincial tourism office or the Albay Public Safety, Emergency and Management Office to ensure a safe climb.
According to the governor, the crew of nine ambulances deployed to assist in the search-and-rescue effort reported that they were having a hard time because boulders as big as trucks blocked the mountain’s rough roads.
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