Sunday, July 23, 2006

People get ready to evacuate as Mayon rumbles!

VILLAGERS on the slopes of Mayon volcano prepared to evacuate yesterday as a series of minor eruptions and cloud of ash indicated it was building up for a major eruption soon, officials said. The volcano has been spewing lava since last week and all signs indicate it was preparing for a major explosive eruption within days or weeks, volcanologists said.

“There were secondary explosions. A collapsed portion of the advancing lava caused an ash cloud of several hundred meters,” scientist Ed Laguerta of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said. “The continuous lava flow indicates that the volcano is still undergoing high level of unrest. At this stage, explosive eruptions are still possible and the probability of life-threatening pyroclastic flows remains high,” Phivolcs said.

Alert level three remained hoisted over Mayon and nearby towns and villagers, meaning that residents should prepare for eventual evacuation. In the farming town of Matanag, which lies near the six-kilometer radius permanent danger zone, residents have packed their things and were awaiting official word to evacuate.

“We only have one life to live each, it’s important to save that,” said coconut farmer Romeo Nantes, 55, and a father of three. Nantes, however, said that he would be tending his farm until a major eruption occurs. Under the shade of a tree, fellow farmer Balasta Balangitan, 37, led his family and friends in planning an escape route as they watched the smouldering lava flow snake down the slopes.

Balangitan said Matanag was among the towns devastated by Mayon’s eruption in 2001, when several dozen people were killed.

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