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Mayon Volcano plus incoming Typhoon - Philippines - Plans to evacuate 300,000

White Widow
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10/27/2009 10:45 AM
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Mayon Volcano plus incoming Typhoon - Philippines - Plans to evacuate 300,000
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.

The Pagasa office in Legazpi promised to deliver hourly rainfall monitoring reports. “For a zero-casualty plan, the requirements are: Pagasa bulletins, data on population at risk, list of safe evacuation centers, warning and evacuation plan and disaster operation centers (DOCs) are activated for 24-hour operations once an emergency situation is declared,” Salceda said. The Phivolcs bulletin on Tuesday showed an abrupt increase in the number of both low and high frequency earthquakes near Mayon during the past 24-hour observation period. Laguerta said there were a total of 30 volcanic quakes which was way higher than the six earthquakes recorded during the past 48-hour observation period. Mayon Volcano, 300 km southeast of Manila, showed crater glow that volcanologists measured at intensity 2 during visible observation periods (without clouds). Smoke was also seen coming out of its crater. Alert level 2 remains hoisted over Mayon with Phivolcs strongly recommending that the 6-km Permanent Danger Zone, including the 7-km Extended Danger Zones in the southeast flank, be off limits to any human activity due to threats from sudden explosions and rock fall from the volcano's upper slopes. In 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. Mayon Volcano, famous for its nearly perfect conical shape, has a height of 2,462 meters above sea level. The volcano, said to be the most active in the country, has erupted at least 50 times since 1616. Its worst eruption buried Cagsawa town and killed 1,200 people in 1814. An eruption in 1993 killed more than 70 farmers. Mayon erupted again in 2006.

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