Sunday, August 27, 2006

Update on how Mayon has affected villagers so far

Mayon Volcano - needs for assistance to evacuees

Background - what has happened

Mayon Volcano, located in the Bicol Region, Province of Albay, is one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines. It has erupted at least 41 times and last erupted in February 2000. On July 14, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) raised the alert level in Mayon to level 3 after observing that incandescent lava fragments were detaching from the summit crater. It also recorded 25 short tremors.

On August 7, PHIVOLCS raised the alert status to level 4. A series of six minor explosions occurred. An Extended Danger Zone (EDZ), an area within eight kilometers of the summit crater in the southern sector, was recommended. At the other areas around the volcano, the EDZ is seven kilometers from the summit crater.

The front of the lava flow along the Mabinit Channel has reached 200 meters downslope of the 6-kilometer permanent danger zone boundary at an elevation of 262 meters above sea level. A second lava flow along the Bonga Gully was located at 5.4 aerial kilometers from the crater, with a 305-meter elevation., with a 305-meter elevation.

During this period, PHIVOLCS ordered the evacuation of communities in areas covered by the 6-kilometer permanent danger zone. As of August 22, PHIVOLCS had observed six minor explosions during a 24-hour observation period. A total of 24 volcanic earthquakes and 431 tremor episodes were also recorded.

The volcanic earthquakes were associated with magma movement and degassing within the volcano. Tremor episodes produced by rock-fall and detaching lava fragments from the lava flow indicate active deposition of lava.

Visual observations showed moderate steaming. The visibility of the volcano was obscured most of the time, but incandescent materials and crater glow were also observed. PHIVOLCS maintains the status of alert level 4. This means that hazardous explosive eruptions are still possible. The public is reminded that the eight-kilometer radius (EDZ) in the southeast sector of the volcano should be off-limits at all times.

What people in threatened areas are doing

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) released an update on August 21, stating that around 9,905 families of 48,261 individuals from 32 barangays from 5 affected municipalities and 3 cities have evacuated. They are staying at 28 recognized evacuation centers across Albay Province.

There are growing fears of disease due to overcrowding. Health clinics have been set up in every evacuation center by the provincial government. Children are being immunized mainly against measles, typhoid and other infectious diseases. In some of the evacuation centers contaminated water systems are being chlorinated.

About 50 hectares of farmland have been destroyed. Lava has trickled down at least 6.7 kilometers since July 14, covering once fertile agricultural lands with molten rock and debris 10 to 15 meters deep. Many coconut groves were also burned.

ACT member response

Andurog Mayon, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) Disaster Response Committee formed in 1999 among the three NCCP member churches in Albay Province, has been reactivated to respond to the emergency situation.

Aside from the hazards brought about by Mayon Volacano, the region is also located in the path of typhoons which devastate the area so often.

ACT member NCCP aims to provide assistance to 4,000 families, mostly poor farmers and farm workers displaced by the Mayon Volcano eruption.

Relief assistance will be provided through distribution of food (rice, canned goods, noodles, milk, sugar, legumes, salt), non-food items (laundry soap, ash masks, water containers, kitchen utensils, blankets, sleeping mats), and other items that may be identified. Medicines will also be provided to patients during medical missions.

Rehabilitation assistance will likewise be provided to families who are having difficulties in restoring their sources of livelihood, particularly those whose crops and livestock were destroyed. Food-for-work will also be provided to around 1,000 families who will need further assistance before they can finally recover from their economic losses.

Disaster-management seminars will be conducted for new volunteers from the member churches as well as communities affected by the eruption.

The implementation period is set for ten months up to June 2007.

Proposed Budget (USD)

Crisis Phase for 4,000 families

Food assistance: 35,240

Non Food items: 10,900

Health inputs: 1,700

Total crisis phase: 47,840

Post crisis phase for 1000 families

Food-for-work: 7,185

Agriculture support: 50,000

Disaster management: 2,000

Total post crisis phase: 59,185

Transport, warehousing: 4,200

Personnel, admin, operational costs: 19,280

Audit, evaluation: 900

Total requested: 131,405

The ACT CO expects to issue the appeal - ASPH62 - before the end of August.

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