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Albay preps for scenarios in case Mt. Mayon unrest escalates

By Connie Calipay

LEGAZPI CITY --- The province of Albay is preparing for possible scenarios in case the alert level of Mayon Volcano goes a level higher.

On Tuesday, Cedric Daep, Albay Public Safety Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) chief, said the province would be facing an “associated hazards” situation.

“Just in case the status of Mayon Volcano is elevated, we are expecting associated hazards as follows -- ashfalls, pyroclastic density currents (PDCs), lahar and the tectonic quake,” he said in an interview.

Daep said areas around Mayon Volcano will experience ashfall depending on the height of the ash column.

“Wala tayong evacuation sa ashfall. Ang kailangan natin ay countermeasure, ito ay damp cloth (We have no evacuation. What we need is a countermeasure, it is a damp cloth). Not necessarily face masks although there are proposals from the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and the national government to provide us with face masks but the safest is a damp cloth. Para hindi natin mahinga ang abo (so we can’t breathe the ashes). The composition of ashfall is like blisters of broken glass,” Daep said.

WATER SUPPLY. An undated photo shows Ako Bicol Party-list workers installing a Level 1 water supply system at San Andres Elementary School, being used as an evacuation center in Sto. Domingo, Albay. Similar facilities will be installed in Guinobatan, Camalig, and Daraga towns where several families are currently housed in evacuation centers amid the unrest of Mt. Mayon. (Photo courtesy of AKB)

He said ashfall is a health hazard, particularly to the upper respiratory system.

“We will suspend classes outside the 6-km permanent danger zone (PDZ). Pwede ilipad yan (ashfall) depende sa wind velocity. Pwede malayo or malapit. Kung mas mahina ang buga ng hangin, mas matindi ang bagsak, mas delikado (Ashfall could be carried away into the atmosphere depending on the wind velocity. It can be far or near. The weaker the wind and the stronger the fall, it’s more dangerous),” he said.

Daep said another associated hazard Albay is preparing for is the effect of PDC, which will need evacuation of residents in areas up to an 8-km extended danger zone (EDZ).

“To describe the pyroclastic flow is like tentacles of an octopus around Mayon Volcano, you can see that flowing up to 6-km or it will extend more. And when heavy rains reached up to 60 millimeters per hour, we will extend evacuation to those areas threatened by lahar near river channels around Mayon,” he said.

Daep also said the volcanic quakes are annoying but not destructive.

“It’s not the basis of evacuation,” he noted.

As of Tuesday, 5,745 families or 20,063 individuals are sheltered in evacuation centers in six towns in Albay.

Meanwhile, those in temporary shelters will no longer wait for water rations after the Ako Bicol (AKB) Party-list began installing water supply systems.

In a statement on Tuesday, AKB Representative Elizaldy Co said at the San Andres Elementary School in Sto. Domingo town, a Level 1 Jet Matic Pump was already installed and is now being used by evacuees.

“Currently, the construction of a Level 1 water supply system is also underway at the Guinobatan Community College, where nearly 2,000 evacuees have temporarily sought shelter. Although the school has a water pump, it cannot be utilized when there is a power outage in the area. Sometimes, the power outage lasts for two days, making it difficult for the evacuees to access water,” Co said.

A Level I water facility normally serves an average of 15 households. (PNA)


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