Friday, June 23, 2006

Mount Bulusan's eruption is near!

Mount Bulusan spewed a massive column of ash about 2 km into the sky at 3:56 p.m. yesterday, sending residents of surrounding areas fleeing for cover.It was the latest in a series of ash explosions that have raised fears the 1,565-meter high Bulusan, one of the most active of the 22 volcanoes that have erupted within recorded history in the Philippines, might be ready to blow.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) based in Sorsogon province said at 7:30 a.m. yesterday that it had recorded four volcanic earthquakes and one brief tremor in the past 24 hours. The ash drifted northwest towards Juban and Magallanes towns, said volcanologist Orlando Guardacasa.

“It’s expected, considering the recent activity of Bulusan. Even in March, we’ve been saying that explosions might occur in Bulusan, and they’ve been increasing since May 31,” Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum said in Manila yesterday.

Bulusan has erupted 15 times,
most recently in November 1994, though minor eruptions have been recorded on April 29, May 25, May 31, June 3, June 7, June 10 and June 13, 2006, with the intervals between explosions becoming shorter and shorter.Solidum said alert level 2 remained raised on Bulusan. The volcano was being monitored closely for “magma moving up from below,” a major factor indicating a possible eruption, he said.

Residents were advised to avoid the 4-km permanent danger zone (PDZ) which Phivolcs said was at risk of being hit by sudden steam or ash explosions.

Residents in areas beyond the PDZ but downwind of the crater would also be adversely affected by ashfalls during explosions, Phivolcs warned.

Residents near the river or stream channels have been advised to be watchful of sudden volcanic flows because ash and other loose volcanic deposits from the upper slopes may be “remobilized” and impact areas near the danger zone.

Phivolcs raised its alert level on Bulusan to a precautionary 2 earlier this month and reminded residents on Thursday to stay away from the mountain after its crater belched clouds of ash.At level 3 an explosion is considered possible, at level 4 it is seen as likely and at level 5, the highest alert, an eruption has occurred, with lava flows or ash columns reaching 6 km.

Casiguran town Mayor Edwin Hamor said he had ordered local police units to start the evacuation of residents from Imlagadian village, which is inside the PDZ, because of Bulusan’s increased activity.“The residents there refused to leave their homes,” Hamor said. “We were just obeying the orders of the President to move people on the volcano slopes to much safer areas. We don’t want to sacrifice lives in case of a major eruption.”

Juban Mayor Tess Guab-Fragata said that thick ashfall rained down on the villages of Puting Sapa, Buraburan and Guruyan in Juban and Bolos village in Irosin.

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