The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised Mayon Volcano’s alert level from 2 to 3 late Monday night, prompting Albay’s Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) to order all local government units (LGUs) to implement forced evacuation of more than 10,000 families in affected areas.
Albay Governor Joey Salceda issued the advisory after Phivolcs raised the alert status from Alarming to Critical at 10 p.m. Monday.
According to Phivolcs, Mayon is exhibiting relatively high unrest with magma at the crater that an eruption is likely to happen within weeks.
“In the past several hours, a noticeable escalation of unrest was recorded by the Mayon Volcano monitoring network. Crater glow has become observable, indicating incandescence of the crater from molten lava and hot volcanic gas,” Phivolcs said.
The forced evacuation was implemented in areas covered by the Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ). The PDZ covers portions of the cities of Legazpi, Tabaco and Ligao and the towns of Guinobatan, Camalig, Daraga, Sto. Domingo and Malilipot.
Armed Forces Southern Luzon chief Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya said that as of yesterday afternoon, more than 1,600 families from the towns of Camalig, Malilipot and Guinobatan in Albay have been evacuated.
Meanwhile, Gov. Salceda said 10,000 families in the 6-km PDZ and even those in the 8-km Extended Danger Zone (EDZ) must be evacuated by Wednesday afternoon. The governor said all local disaster management councils are ready for any emergency situation.
“We have to get the residents out of the high-risk area fast while we still have time,” said Salceda.
A “no human activity” policy within the 6-km PDZ was enforced as counter measure for disaster avoidance. Phivolcs warned of the dangers of “rock falls, landslides, and sudden explosions or dome collapse that may generate hazardous volcanic flows.”
About 20 military trucks are on currently on standby at the PDRRMC Operations Center in Legazpi City while 30 more trucks from the Army’s 9th Infantry Division are expected to arrive to aid in evacuation.
In preparation for the impending disaster, Salceda asked officials of the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to prepare the evacuation sites and provisions of the evacuees. He also asked the Department of Health to purchase face masks to be distributed to residents to prevent possible upper respiratory infection from ash inhalation.