Style Living Self Celebrity Geeky News and Views
In the Paper Shop Hello! Create with us

Phivolcs: Mt. Bulusan still under Alert Level 1, no further evacuation needed; relief ops ongoing

By NICK GARCIA Published Jun 06, 2022 12:58 pm

After Mt. Bulusan in Sorsogon spewed a huge, dark cloud on June 5—and prompted evacuations from ash-covered towns for fear of more possible eruptions—Phivolcs on June 6 said it's not recommending further evacuations at this point as the volcano stays under Alert Level 1.

Renato Solidum, director of the Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology, said barangays surrounding Mt. Bulusan are outside the four-kilometer permanent danger zone (PDZ), where entry is prohibited due to the increased possibilities of sudden and hazardous phreatic eruptions, or explosions caused by the boiling water under the crater.

"Ang mahalaga lamang ay manatiling handa ang mga residente at lokal na pamahalaan kung sakaling magkaroon ng mas matinding aktibidad ang Bulkang Bulusan," Solidum said.

The ash-covered houses and vegetation in Juban in Sorsogon after Mt. Bulusan erupted, sending a plume of ash over the area.

"Ngunit kung sakali naman ay magkaroon ng makakapal na pagbagsak ng abo at may kababayan tayo na nahihirapan huminga, maaari naman magkaroon ng paglikas base sa desisyon ng local government."

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said about 50 families comprising 180 individuals have been evacuated from Brgy. Puting Sapa in Juban, as they're within the four- to six- kilometer radius of Mt. Bulusan.

Some 1,600 residents, meanwhile, were displaced due to the ashfall in barangays Puting Sapa, Añog, Bacolod, Buraburan, Calmayon, Catanusan, and Guruyan.

Steam is released from Mt. Bulusan as seen from Casiguran in Sorsogon on June 5.

Mt. Bulusan's phreatic eruption on Sunday lasted about 17 minutes, sending a gray plume shooting up at least one kilometer (0.6 miles), according to Phivolcs.

No casualties were reported, but authorities raised the alert level to one on the five-level system, indicating "low-level unrest."

No Alert Level 2 yet

Solidum, in a Laging Handa public briefing on June 6, said Phivolcs won't raise Mt. Bulusan's alert level from 1 to 2 at this point, as there's no magma involved yet. Phivolcs classifies Alert Level 2 as "moderate-level unrest."

"Ang measurement ng sulfur dioxide gas na batayan na mayroong magma na involved ay hindi pa ma-detect," he said.

Solidum, however, didn't discount the possibility of further phreatic eruptions and reminded residents to be cautious.

Relief efforts

The Region V office of the Department of the Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on June 6 has started distributing 1,000 food packs and 58 hygiene kits in Juban.

The DSWD Region V in its situation report said that as of June 5, 12:00mn, it has some 25,000 family food packs in its warehouses in Albay/Legazpi City, Catanduanes, and Masbate City.

Its food stockpile worth P5.5 million has items like rice, corned beef, canned sardines, canned tuna, instant coffee, and cereal drink.

P30 million worth of non-food items, meanwhile, include outdoor tents, hygiene kits, mosquito nets, folding beds, water containers, laminated sacks, and blankets.

DSWD Region V also has a standby fund of P5 million, it said.

Vice President Leni Robredo, meanwhile, on June 5 said her office has also prepared for relief operations in Bulusan and surrounding areas, noting that immediate needs are face masks and bottled water.

Robredo shared an update about her team's relief efforts on Instagram Story on June 6, showing a photo of his staff unloading boxes of goods with the Angat Buhay logo.

"This was last night, loading our first batch of relief goods for Sorsogon," she wrote. "So proud of our team for responding very quickly, all the time.

'Safe and sound'

Last Sunday, a group of 14 hikers and four local guides were midway down the 1,565-meter tall mountain, unaware that an ash cloud was shooting up on the other side of the mountain, civil defense official Leo Ferreras of nearby Barcelona town told AFP by phone.

"All of them got down safe and sound," Ferreras added.

The local government of Sorsogon said 10 villages in two towns were affected by the ashfall.

Images of the aftermath showed houses, roads, and trees in Juban town covered in ash, with vehicles struggling to navigate the road due to poor visibility.

Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management officers guide vehicles passing through the highway of Juban.

Authorities deployed a fire truck to clear the area and residents helped sweep the ash off the roads.

"The evacuation is ongoing there, but our priority is senior citizens and those with asthma," Juban disaster official Dennis Despabiladeras said.

The Manila airport authority said no flights have been affected by the eruption so far, though pilots were warned about coming near the area.

Residents near the valleys and rivers were also alerted about the danger of mud and stream flows in the event of heavy rainfall.

Mt. Bulusan has been active in recent years, with a dozen similar eruptions recorded in 2016 and 2017.

The Philippines is located in the seismically active Pacific "Ring of Fire" and has over 20 active volcanoes. (with reports from AFP)