MANILA: Mount Mayon, the Philippines’ most active volcano, continued to spew lava and ash plumes on Tuesday as state volcanologists kept a close watch for indicators that would trigger the raising of its alert level to 5.
Level 5 mean a hazardous eruption is taking place, according to state volcanologists.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Monday placed Mayon on alert after the eruption of a giant ash column.
But at the time of reporting, Phivolcs research specialist Paul Alanis said officials were “not yet considering” raising Mayon’s alert level.
“The possibility of hoisting the alert level is always there, but right now we are sticking to level 4,” Alanis told Arab News. He said that in terms of parameter there is only a slight difference between levels 4 and 5.
Alert level 5 represents a sustained eruption.
“It’s not about the frequency of the eruption but the duration of an eruption. It doesn’t matter if you have 10 or 20 eruptions on that day if the eruptions are quite short,” he said.
He said that for the past 24 hours most of Mayon’s lava-fountaining and eruptions were of short duration, lasting only 30 minutes at most. For level 5, the duration of the eruptions are longer.
In its latest bulletin, Phivolcs reported that for the past 24 hours, it has recorded a total of two explosion-type earthquakes, 15 tremor events, 35 rockfall events and two pyroclastic flows from lava collapse.
“Between 9:37 p.m. and 5:25 a.m. the following morning, five episodes of intense but sporadic lava fountaining from the summit crater lasting three to 30 minutes occurred,” the report stated.
The lava fountains reached 500 meters to 700 meters high and generated ash plumes that reached 2.5 km to 3 km above the crater.
“The last eruption for today was at 1:16 p.m. Since 8 a.m. there have been two eruptions,” Alanis said. Despite that, they do not see any indication at the moment that would prompt them to raise the alert level. “But that situation could change anytime,” he said.
As a major eruption becomes more imminent, local officials of Albay province have imposed “alert level 5” contingency measures and extended the “danger zone” around Mayon.
“We are extending the 9 km extended zone even at level 4 status of Mayon volcano so that we have a 1 km buffer zone,” said Cedric Daep, head of the Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO).
As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, 14,241 families or 56,217 persons have been moved to evacuation centers since Mayon started showing signs of instability.
Daep said that those who were in temporary shelters had been provided with relief and that health officers were attending to them.
Meanwhile, in view of the increased activity of Mayon volcano, Philippine authorities have called on the public to stay clear of the designated danger zone and to strictly observe safety precautions.
“Foreign and domestic visitors who have arrived in the area to watch the spectacle displayed by the country’s magnificent natural treasure must abide by the mandatory precautions imposed by authorities, particularly keeping off the 8 km radius danger zone,” a statement from the Department of Tourism (DoT) said.
Classes and office works in affected municipalities were suspended, while the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) announced that there will be no flights in Legazpi City, Albay and Pili, and Camarines Sur airport until further notice