By Celso Amo
LEGAZPI CITY --- Two American tourists were caught playing golf Friday morning last week inside the 7-kilometer danger zone in Barangay Lidong on the southeast sector here even as Mayon Volcano’s restive behavior has been reported to have slowed down in the past few days.
Joe Smith and Mario Robles were playing golf when a team of policemen from Sto. Domingo led by Senior Inspector Genevieve Usirin chanced upon them, according to Police Senior Inspector Manuel Ramos, information officer at the Albay provincial police office.
The two American tourists who were also found to be members of Legazpi City Golf Club said they wanted to play golf before returning back home.
The two tourists even asked the police if they could finish the game.
“But we told them to stop and follow the order that declared the area a restricted zone,” lady cop Usirin said.
The tourists were accompanied by two local guides.
The tourists and their local guides even asked the police not to report the incident to Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal.
Usirin said the two tourists and their guides sneaked in from Barangay Padang on the Legazpi City-side that made them to evade the personnel of the Sto. Domingo police.
“We are now coordinating with Supt. Nilo Berdin of Legazpi City for them to secure the area in Barangay Padang,” said Usirin.
It was the third time that the police caught tourists getting inside the 7-kilometer danger zone in Barangay Lidong.
The first was a Swiss tourist and the second were two American scientists who asked permission from Phivolcs to observe the volcano’s eruption outside the 8-kilometer danger zone but instead went inside the 7-kilometer danger zone in Barangay Lidong.
“Barangay Lidong is attractive to tourists because it provides a close and clear view of Mayon Volcano erupting,” Usurin added.
Phivolcs scientists warned disaster and local officials that pyroclastic density currents usually pass through a crack on the southeast sector of the volcano.
Cedric Daep, Albay provincial security and emergency management office (APSEMO) head, said he immediately called up Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal to inform the latter about the incident.
Mayor Rosal immediately responded.
“We will apprehend them if they will be caught inside the danger zone again,” said Usirin.
Daep recalled that the72 farmers from Barangay Mabinit and Buyuan were killed by ‘uson’ or lava flow while tilling their crop along the slopes inside the 6-kilometer on the southeast flank of the volcano on Feb. 3, 1993.
The 7-kilometer extended danger zone at the southeast plank of the volcano facing Legazpi City was designated by Phivolcs as such due to a crack on the volcano’s crater before the 2014 Mayon eruption which was mainly characterized by lava effusion.
“We will just wait for Phivolc’s advisory next week whether it will downgrade the present danger status of Mayon Volcano,” said Daep.
There are still 17,346 families or 66,097 persons staying inside 60 evacuation centers in the towns of Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, Bacacay, Malilipot, and Sto. Domingo and the cities of Legazpi, Ligao and Tabaco, all in the province of Albay.
Daep said Mayon seems to appear “on a downgrading status,” referring to its noticeable less hostile behavior in the past days.
Alert Level 4 , however, still remains hoisted over Mayon Volcano.