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Plans to move out up to 300,000 people were put in place in Albay starting Tuesday as the province went on high alert for a coming storm and possible lahar flow from the restive Mayon Volcano. “In a worse case scenario for a typhoon and Mayon's eruption, we would evacuate 150,000 to 300,000 persons," said Cedric Daep, director of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (Apsemo). "But with lahar, the number could climb even higher." Governor Joey Salceda said he has ordered all workers at disaster operation centers to report for work 24 hours. Officials were to conduct an aerial survey around Mayon’s crater but it was cancelled due to thick clouds. “We have been waiting for a chance to get a clear view of Mayon's crater to conduct the aerial survey since the last one conducted sometime in August after alert level 2 was declared on July 3 this year,” said resident volcanologist Eduardo Laguerta. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said a lava dome has already formed in the crater. It causes the glow that is visible at night. An aerial survey has to be conducted so scientists could check how big the lava dome has grown. Salceda said the emergence of a new storm threat prompted him to call for a meeting of the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council yesterday at 8 a.m. at the Apsemo. “While it is still 2,600 kilometers away, Albay must prepare early since typhoons at this time (last three months of the year) have historically southern tracks,” he said. Satellite forecasts showed the tropical cyclone (local name: “Santi”) has a potential strength of 185 kilometers per hour upon landfall. Recent typhoons had a heavy rainfall content and this could be complicated by lahar from Mayon. During the PDCC meeting, Daep recalled that Typhoon "Reming" in 2006 had flooded communities with 198,000 houses across the province. “Santi is feared to affect electricity, water supply, bridges, schools, government and private facilities,” Daep said. Daep said mud flows might displace at least 15,000 persons. He added that flash floods have validated the location of areas that are threatened. These are in 116 villages. Storm surges threaten coastal areas, especially if the new storm passes through Albay.
Situation Update No. 1
On 28.10.2009 at 09:45 GMT+2
Mayon Volcano spewed ash anew on Wednesday morning, indicating fresh sign of heightened restiveness that could result in a major eruption, a month and 13 days after its first ash explosion episode last September 15. The event prompted authorities to issue a new 24-hour alert to residents of communities surrounding the volcano. This, amid preparations for a possible storm, which the weather bureau has named "Santi" once it enters the Philippine area of responsibility. "At 5:32 a.m. today, one minor ash explosion occurred at the summit crater of Mayon volcano. This event lasted for about one minute," said resident volcanologist Eduardo Laguerta in a phone interview with the Philippine Daily Inaquirer. Laguerta said the explosion produced a brownish ash column that rose to a maximum height of about 600 meters above the crater and drifted toward the northeast direction. For the past 24-hour observation period, the seismic network recorded 13 volcanic earthquakes. Steam emission was at moderate level, creeping downslope toward southwest. Sulfur dioxide emission rate, however, was measured Monday at only 250 tons, way below the baseline data of 500 tons while crater glow was not observed last night due to poor visibility. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said Mayon blew ash starting past 5 a.m. on Tuesday. Residents living near the slopes claimed hearing what they said was a "thud" followed by a display of whitish cauliflower-like plume above the crater. The minor explosion prompted Albay Governor Joey Salceda, chairman of the provincial disaster coordinating council, to direct smaller disaster councils to be on 24-hour high level of alert. Salceda directed the councils to prepare to evacuate residents if things got worse. Phivolcs, however, kept alert level 2 in place, which meant more ash explosions were likely. Phivolcs reiterated a strict off-limits order inside a six-kilometer permanent danger zone (PDZ) and a seven-km extended danger zone (EDZ). Villagers were also advised to stay away from active river channels and areas tagged as lahar-prone. Last August, scientists kept watch for a feared collapse of a portion of Mayon's crater, which holds an estimated 200,000 cubic feet of rocks.