As the lava started to drip down the slopes of Mayon Volcano and PHIVOLCS raised the alert level to three (3) out of five (5), 10 000 people were ordered to evacuate on September 16, 2014. No exemption nor extension of time were given to stubborn and defiant residents living in the six-kilometer radius permanent danger zone.
According to Ed Laguerta, the resident volcanologist of PHIVOLCS Bicol, Mayon may erupt within days or weeks from now as the magma build up is continuously pushing towards the crater.
The forced evacuation was done by the Provincial Government of Albay under Governor Joey Salceda, so as not to repeat the harrowing incident in 2003 when in the absence of showing or indication of minor abnormality Mayon Volcano suddenly erupted during lunch time and killed more than 80 farmers and children.
Alert status of Mayon was raised to Alert Level 3 because of high unrest & movement of eruptible magma to the crater pic.twitter.com/28qFScnn84— jaime s. sincioco (@jaimessincioco) September 16, 2014
According to "Mayon Volcano bulletin" issued by PHIVOLCS at 00:00 UTC on September 17, Mayon Volcano’s (13.2500°N, 123.6833°E) seismic network recorded forty five (38) volcanic earthquakes and two hundred seventy (277) rock fall events during the past 24-hour observation period.
"Intensity III (bright) crater glow was visible last night, although rain clouds prevented visual observation of the crater during the day. Rolling incandescent rockfall within the uppermost reaches of the Bonga Gully last night indicates that the summit lava dome is breaching the crater in its southeastern side.
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) flux was measured at an average of 457 tonnes/day on 12 September 2014 although SO2 emission rates peaked at 2,360 tonnes/day on 06 September 2014. Ground deformation data showed inflationary changes in the edifice from February 2014 based on precise leveling surveys on the 3rd week of August 2014, and edifice inflation from January 2012 baselines based on continuous tilt measurement.
All the above data indicate that the volcano is exhibiting relatively high unrest due to the movement of potentially eruptible magma."
President Aquino hailed Salceda during his Speech of the Nation Address last July for the zero casualty result in Albay during the July 15 Typhoon "Glenda".
“I am always aiming for a zero casualty no matter what the cost is,” said Salceda even as he admitted being criticized by his political detractors for alleged over exaggeration in enforcing the province disaster program. "What else would you expect me to do with more than 10 000 people inside the no man’s land, under alert level 3," he added.
Salceda said all evacuation centers are ready anytime waiting for the evacuees.
Featured image credit: jaime s. sincioco