Saturday, August 19, 2006

Mayon is getting ready to blow again!

Mayon Volcano’s cone swelled slightly yesterday as fresh magma forced its way to the top, indicating material is building up for an explosive eruption, scientists said.

They said instruments detected a slight swelling in the mountain’s upper part and some deformation on the ground as fresh magma started pushing up to the top.

Volcanologist Ed Laguerta said there was a high probability of the volcano erupting any time following recent readings.

“Almost all parameters such as lava flows, ash explosions, pyroclastic flows, and the recent edifice swelling indicate that the volcano could blow any time,” Laguerta said.

He said Mayon was shifting from magma buildup to ground inflation leading to ash explosions, pyroclastic flows, and finally to an eruption.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said the volcano continued to push lava some 6.7 km down its slopes, bringing the lava deposit to 40 million cu m and surpassing the deposits from its previous eruptions.

Scientists warned residents against mistaking the calm for a signal to return home because the instruments were saying otherwise.

“What you observe on Mayon on the outside is not what it is on the inside,” said Ernesto Corpuz, the volcanology institute’s monitoring chief.

Disaster management chief Cedric Daep said he would order no evacuee to return home until scientists told him it was safe to do so.

“Although we are the one in charge of disaster control, it is solely the experts who can interpret Mayon’s condition,” he said.

He said the evacuees from the danger zones around the volcano should be no more than 30,000 or 34,000, but the head count at the evacuation centers showed there were more than 44,000.
“We have an official count of over 44,000 but we were only expecting 34,000,” he said.

“It could be that even those we did not advise to evacuate still went ahead and left their homes. We have to check on this.”

The evacuees from 32 towns are housed in 28 evacuation centers in five towns and three cities in Albay.

But some reports said jeeploads of evacuees had been seen going back to their homes within the 6- to 8-km danger zones.

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