By AFP, Aaron B. Recuenco, and Genalyn D. Kabiling
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay – Millions of tons of ash and rocks from Mayon Volcano could bury nearby communities due to heavy rain, authorities said yesterday, as thousands flee over fears of a deadly explosion.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology issued the warning as heavy rains lashed the surroundings of Mayon, which has been emitting flaming lava and giant clouds of superheated ash for about a week.
Rainwater could combine with the volcanic ash and rock to form deadly, fast-moving mudflows – called “lahars” – that could sweep away entire settlements, authorities said.
“If there is ash fall and heavy rain, it can be converted into (a) lahar,” Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum said.
“The important thing is to move out in case of heavy rains… this is a precautionary measure.”
Phivolcs earlier said in an advisory that 25 million cubic meters of ash and other volcanic material had recently been emitted by Mayon, settling on its slopes and the surrounding area.
It warned that this could result in lahars flowing into waterways and called on officials to move residents near rivers to higher ground.
An explosion of the 2,460-meter Mayon in August 2006 did not directly kill anyone but four months later, typhoon “Reming” (international name “Durian”) unleashed an avalanche of volcanic mud from Mayon’s slopes that claimed 1,000 lives.
Phivolcs said Mayon had emitted fountains of lava on Friday but bad weather was preventing observation of the volcano’s activity yesterday.
Volcanic mudflows have been a perennial problem during and after volcanic eruptions in the Philippines, which sits on the “Ring of Fire” – islands in the Pacific that were formed by volcanic activity.
The government has already evacuated more than 84,000 people from a “danger zone” stretching as far as nine kilometers around Mayon over fears of a possible deadly eruption.
Meanwhile, President Duterte, fresh from his official trip to India, is planning to visit Albay tomorrow to check on the plight of evacuees following the eruption of Mayon.
The President said he intends to rest for two days to nurse his migraine and then travel to Albay.
“Inaatake ako ng migraine ko and I have a cold coming up,” Duterte said in a press conference upon arrival in Davao City from his visit to India early yesterday morning.
“I’ll probably take a rest for a day or two, I will go to – sa Mayon. Ang problema kung saan tayo mag-landing. Sa tabing dagat siguro,” he added.
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