Albay, Bicol — According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), the Mayon volcano may continue to emit low-frequency rumbles for several more months. As a result, thousands of residents are still required to take shelter in evacuation centers situated in the central province of Albay.
The crater of the Mayon volcano is still emitting lava and red-hot rocks at a slow pace, as observed by Phivolcs Director Teresito Bacolcol. In the past 24 hours, only one volcanic earthquake has been reported, which is significantly lower than the 21 recorded the day before. However, sulfur dioxide emissions slightly increased from 642 tons on Sunday to 723 tons on Monday.
According to Him, “What we are currently observing is following the pattern of the 2014 eruption, which was marked by a steady and relatively quiet discharge of lava, known as an effusive eruption.” Based on their past experiences, this type of activity could continue for a few months. However, if the eruption were to become explosive, it could last for a few days to weeks, but with its current slow pace, it is likely to continue for several months.
Mayon has once again erupted, causing concern for the safety of those living near it. The eruption, which occurred last Thursday, has already prompted authorities to raise the alert level from 2 to 3. The previous eruptions in 2014 and 2018 displaced tens of thousands of people, and this recent event has already resulted in around 13,000 people being moved to evacuation centers.
Most of these individuals are from farming villages located at or near the base of the volcano. Given the history of the volcano’s eruptions, officials are monitoring the situation closely to ensure that necessary measures are taken to protect the affected communities.
Currently, residents of the permanent danger zone will have to remain in evacuation centers unless Phivolcs decides to lower the alert level. Bacolcol firmly believes that no one should be living in an area designated as a permanent danger zone.
At present, evacuees are seeking shelter in a community college, 13 schools, and nine evacuation facilities. Unfortunately, some of these structures were not intended for use as evacuation centers, which has led to additional issues. For example, some of the schools have problems with overflowing septic tanks and human waste, creating unsanitary conditions for the evacuees. Albay Governor Edcel “Grex” Lagman is working to address these concerns and ensure that all evacuees are provided with adequate living conditions during this challenging time.
According to the governor, the social welfare department has pledged to provide high-quality relief packs to the affected areas, while the Office of Civil Defense is expected to distribute a water filtration system. However, some evacuees still haven’t received safe drinking water from the authorities.
To address this issue, Lagman plans to discuss permanent relocation options with Albay mayors for residents living within the 6-kilometer danger zone around Mayon. He believes that it’s crucial to establish a new system in Albay that can prevent this from becoming a recurring problem.
The local government joined forces with the labor department and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to provide evacuees with livelihood programs and training.
Dr. Estella Zenit, the Provincial Health Officer, assured that Albay’s provincial health office has ample medicine supplies for evacuees in the event of the Mayon volcano’s continued unrest for several months. Governor Lagman set aside P5 million from the local government’s quick response funds to support the health sector. Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa pledged to dispatch extra medical resources, including face masks and medicines, for use in evacuation centers. As per Zenit, evacuees frequently request medication for diabetes, hypertension, coughs, and antibiotics.