It’s been a hair-raisingly dangerous weekend over in the province of Albay, especially for the communities within close proximity to the perfectly symmetrical slopes of Mayon. The active volcano has been especially restless this early in the year, with about nine brief but plainly obvious eruptions and no less than 75 lava collapses, threatening to spew hot materials all the way down to the surrounding towns. In this increasingly dire situation the Albay provincial government was spurred by their governor to quickly declare a state of calamity this Monday. It was granted and put into effect on the following day.
According to Reuters, Albay Governor Al Bichara began petitioning the declaration of a state of emergency to the provincial board starting January 15, about two days after the start of the intensifying volcanic activity at Mayon, the area of which is shared geographically by no less than five municipalities and three cities in the province. The board approved the request, allowing for the state of calamity to be formally declared on Tuesday, January 16. The declaration is necessary to allow the Albay government to access its specially allotted calamity fund in order to address the immediate needs of their evacuees.
Speaking about the need to have a state of emergency declared quickly for Albay, Gov. Bichara tells news channel ANC, “This kind of eruption, it will take about weeks, so we have to sustain the operations in the evacuation centers. We need to use the calamity funds.” In his estimate, a total of 25,000 local residents in close proximity to Mayon have already been evacuated, three thousand more than the recorded number by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). Classes have also been suspended provincially in order to have the school campus be readied as evacuation centers.
Mayon’s activity ratcheted up back in Saturday, January 13, and as of Tuesday when the state of calamity was declared in Albay, the volcano has been put on Alert Level 3 by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) due to the gathering magma at the crater and the occurrence of pyroclastic flows, which would be potentially damaging if they can reach down to ground level where the surrounding communities lie. There is a possibility that a truly hazardous eruption could happen in days or weeks from now, whereupon the Alert Level will be raised to 5, the maximum.
The Philippines is home to numerous active volcanoes such as Mayon, due to being located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, where borders of tectonic plates are located, which are a major contributing factor to the emergence of volcanoes pouring out magma from deep beneath the surface of the Earth.
Photo courtesy of todayonline.com