Phivolcs prods local execs to monitor Mayon trekkers

By Cet Dematera


After lowering Mayon Volcano’s alert level from one to zero, or abnormal to normal on July 30, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) is prodding local officials of towns and cities with villages inside the foot-slope of the country’s most active volcano to closely monitor trekking, hiking and other activities in their pre-identified tourist destinations.


Paul Alanis, Phivolcs resident volcanologist in Bicol, said they are anticipating more human activities even inside the six-kilometer radius permanent danger zone (PDZ) now that no alert level is hoisted over Mayon.


“Now that Phivolcs declared Mayon as normal, we expect more activities again even inside the permanent danger zone including trekking, hiking and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) rides,” Alanis told Bicol Mail.


He said that it is now the lookout of local officials to closely monitor such activities in their jurisdiction.


“We know these LGUs, particularly their tourism offices, have already identified tourist destinations once Mayon is declared normal,” Alanis said.


He admitted that even under normal condition, entering Mayon’s declared permanent danger zones remain risky because of the volcano’s erratic behavior.


Alanis recalled Mayon’s sudden phreatic eruptions in Feb. 1, 1993 that killed 77 farmers when hit by pyroclastic flow, and in May 7, 2013, that charred to death four foreign tourists and a Filipino tour guide.


“Our instruments could only detect big movements inside the volcano such as magma ascent and volcanic earthquakes. But these instruments could not predict sudden phreatic eruptions,” Alanis added.


Phivolcs lowered Mayon’s alert to normal last July 30 after observing continued decline in all its abnormal activities.