Albay to use hi-tech drone in lahar map

By Samuel Toledo


LEGAZPI CITY --- The Abay provincial government will be using a high-tech drone to come up with new mapping of lahar and other volcanic deposits at the slopes of Mayon Volcano for more precise contingency planning.


In an interview on Monday, Dec. 14 Cedric Daep, chief of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (Apsemo), said they already requested the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the acquisition of a high tech drone that could capture vital topographic details.


He said this is needed in accurately mapping lahar and other volcanic materials that threaten populated communities around the volcano during bad weather conditions.


Daep said a UNDP representative in the Philippines has positively responded to their request after hearing that a lahar mapping based on more accurate inputs has a bigger chance of saving lives and properties in high-risk areas.


“And the data to be supplied by this high-tech drone could supplement the inputs coming from the geo-space satellites,” Daep said.


He said with these added important data, analysis in planning for contingencies, to avoid if not totally eliminate lahar or volcanic material- triggered disasters, would be more in-depth and precise.


“Right now we are only using the data being supplied by the geo-space monitors and the aerial and ocular surveys over Mayon Volcano. With these drone-generated inputs, we could come up with a more precise analysis that would in return guide our planners and decision-makers,” Daep said.


Thousands of people had lost their lives due to massive lahar, mudflow, and debris-carrying flash floods coming from Mayon Volcano due to torrential rains brought by strong typhoons that hit Bicol in the past decades.


The worst disaster that hit Bicol was the onslaught of super Typhoon “Reming” in 2006 that submerged most of Albay and Legazpi City under over six-foot deep rampaging floodwater mixed with lahar and big rocks that killed at least 1,000 people. Some five hundred more people remain missing in the province.


Last Nov. 5, this year, at least five people were buried alive in lahar, sand, and rocks in the village of San Francisco in Guinobatan town located at the slope of Mayon Volcano, when the super typhoon battered Albay.


Relocating the affected residents is the main priority of the Albay provincial government to avoid losing more lives in the lahar- threatened communities.


A 14-hectare land worth P36 million is now being acquired by the local government to put up a relocation site for those who were left homeless by the past typhoons that hit Bicol. (PNA)