- Title: PHILIPPINES: Volcano alert level could be lowered if lull continues, experts say
- Date: 1st January 2010
- Summary: MORE OF VILLAGERS BOARDING MILITARY TRUCK
- Embargoed: 16th January 2010 12:00
- Location: Philippines
- Country: Philippines
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Reuters ID: LVA6XRM1IL5HBJ0OEWMCRC5G1JGP
- Story Text: Mayon Volcano may have shown signs of calming on Thursday (December 31), but soldiers still kept villagers from returning to the eight-kilometre danger zone in Legazpi City.
There weren't any ash explosions in Mayon over the 24-hour period ending Thursday (December 31), but seismologists still warn of a possible hazardous eruption.
Some residents went back to their villages to check on their belongings and said they wished to spend New Year's Eve in their own homes, complaining of poor sanitation and cramped conditions inside the temporary shelters.
"It makes us sad that we have no choice but to stay in the evacuation centre instead of returning to our homes," said Glenda Armis.
Army soldiers swept through the villages of Mabinit and Buyuan, and forced hundreds of residents back to the evacuation centres, under strict orders from the provincial government.
The military set up checkpoints and sent trucks to and from the villages to pick up hard headed residents.
"At all cost we will prevent them. Even if we need to use force, we will do so to ensure their safety. Because even if the volcano is silent, the danger is still imminent," Army captain Razaleigh Bansawan said.
Incandescent lava fragments continued to flow from the summit of Mayon, but the volcano emitted only very weak to moderate volumes of white steam.
Seismic monitoring revealed 60 volcanic earthquakes and 267 rock fall events related to lava detaching from the upper slopes. The volcano yielded more than 1,000 tonnes of sulphur dioxide.
The decrease in tremors and the lack of ash explosions signify that the volcano's activities are abating, compared to more intense levels of up to 2,000 earthquakes and 100 ash explosions per day in the past two weeks.
Despite the apparent lull, volcanologists have kept Mayon Volcano on Alert Level 4, meaning a hazardous eruption is imminent.
"Even though we put more emphasis on a higher probability for a hazardous eruption or explosions, but we could not also discount the possibility of having this type of activity to wind down, with just flowing lava and minor explosions, so that possibility is still present with this. If that would be the case in the next few days we could recommend lowering the alert status from 4 to 3," resident volcanologist Eduardo Laguerta said.
Some 50,000 evacuees have been staying in temporary shelters across Albay province for almost two weeks since Mayon began spewing ash and lava. Most of them earn their living as subsistence farmers, and were forced to abandon their livestock and crops - their main sources of income.
The evacuees will spend New Year's Eve inside school buildings as they did Christmas, eating sparse meals that are far from the traditional festivities they are used to. Officials have distributed relief items to help them get by in the holiday season.
"In these circumstances, we'd be happy if we could see some fireworks. We have some food from donors too, I can give that to my children. It will be just enough for them," said Babylyn Marzan, mother of three.
Mayon is the most active of the Philippines' 22 volcanoes, having erupted more than 50 times in the past four centuries. The most destructive eruption was in February 1814, when lava flows buried a town and killed 1,200 people.
The last time Mayon erupted was in 2006.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2011. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: Video restrictions: parts of this video may require additional clearances. Please see ‘Business Notes’ for more information.