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Albay turns to foreign aid groups for help

By Aaron B. Recuenco and Ellalyn V. Ruiz

LEGAZPI CITY, Albay – The provincial government of Albay is turning to various international agencies for assistance as it deals with almost 85,000 evacuees and a possible three-month-long emergency around Mayon Volcano.

Dr. Cedric Daep, head of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office, said they are now conducting an assessment of evacuation centers to identify the needs of evacuees and the assistance that these agencies mostly connected with the United Nations can provide.

“We are meeting with the local government units to identify their needs,” said Daep.

Daep said according to their initial assessment, they need more tents to decongest most of the classrooms serving as evacuation centers which has a ratio of one classroom for 180 evacuees.

As of yesterday, 21,987 families composed of 84,425 individuals have fled the eruption of Mayon which is 330 kilometers southeast of Manila.

The Bagumbayan Elementary School here hosts the biggest number of evacuees with 1,118 families or 4,186 individuals.

Aside from the United Nations, other foreign aid groups assisting Mayon evacuees are the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology recorded 298 earthquakes over the past 24 hours in Mayon which was more than double Monday to Tuesday’s 119.

The increase in seismic activity in Mayon could be a sign of an impending bigger eruption in the next few days.

At 11:51 a.m. Tuesday, Phivolcs said one lava collapse fed pyroclastic density current event on Miisi Gully, producing a 1,250 meter-high ash cloud that drifted southwest.

This was succeeded by two more pyroclastic flow on the Basud Gully that lasted until 12:09 p.m. and produced ash clouds that drifted southwest.

Phivolcs observed low whitish to light gray plumes that were continuously emitted from the crater throughout the day and sporadic ashing began at 5:11 p.m.

This was followed by continuous and sluggish lava effusion in the evening and early morning that continually fed lava flows on the Miisi and Bonga gullies, while intermittent short-lived lava fountaining up to 200 meters occurred throughout the night.

From Tuesday to Wednesday, Phivolcs recorded 298 volcanic earthquakes, four distinct episodes of pyroclastic flow from lava collapse, and 52 rock fall events generated by the collapsing lava front and margins of the advancing lava flows on the Bonga and Miisi Gullies.

Sulfur dioxide emission has increased to 3,428 tons per day.