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Disease breakout among displaced residents following Mayon volcano eruption, Philippines

mayon volcano june 18 2023 f

At least 628 displaced persons have fallen ill in evacuation centers following the eruption of the Mayon Volcano in the Philippines, according to a report released by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The eruption of the Mayon Volcano, the Philippines’ most active volcano, has led to an unexpected health crisis among the displaced persons taking shelter in evacuation centers. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) confirmed on June 19, 2023, that at least 628 individuals aged between 2 to 64 years old have contracted various illnesses, including fever, coughs, colds, gastroenteritis, acute respiratory infection, and skin disease.

Around 18 999 individuals from 5 466 families are currently being housed in 28 established evacuation centers, typically in school classrooms, throughout the province. However, the total number of displaced persons is higher, with many seeking refuge with friends and relatives.

Despite the ongoing unrest of the Mayon Volcano, the provincial government, which has declared a state of calamity, has extended significant assistance to the affected communities. As of June 21, 2023, PHP73.9 million (equivalent to $1.47 million) worth of aid has been dispensed. This assistance includes necessities such as distilled water, assorted clothes, hygiene kits, tents and shelter materials, family food packs, sleeping kits, and fuel.

The increased activity of the Mayon Volcano has affected a total of 39 057 individuals from 10 171 families residing in 26 barangays in the Bicol region, as per the NDRRMC’s update.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), has maintained Mayon Volcano’s alert status at Level 3, which indicates an increased tendency towards a hazardous eruption. However, a rise to Alert Level 4, suggesting a potentially explosive eruption within hours to days, is not anticipated at present.

Despite Mayon’s continuing effusive eruption, characterized by the slow release of magma, and lava flows reaching up to 2.5 km (1.55 miles) from the crater, the danger zone will remain set at 6 km (3.72 miles) for the time being. “We don’t see an indication that we need to extend the PDZ,” Phivolcs officer in charge Teresito Bacolcol said.

Geological summary

Beautifully symmetrical Mayon volcano, which rises to 2 462 m (8 077 feet) above the Albay Gulf, is the Philippines’ most active volcano.

The structurally simple volcano has steep upper slopes averaging 35-40 degrees that are capped by a small summit crater. Historical eruptions at this basaltic-andesitic volcano date back to 1616 and range from strombolian to basaltic plinian, with cyclical activity beginning with basaltic eruptions, followed by longer-term andesitic lava flows.

Eruptions occur predominately from the central conduit and have also produced lava flows that travel far down the flanks.

Pyroclastic flows and mudflows have commonly swept down many of the approximately 40 ravines that radiate from the summit and have often devastated populated lowland areas.

Mayon’s most violent eruption, in 1814, killed more than 1 200 people and devastated several towns.

References:

1 Over 600 evacuees fall ill due to volcanic eruption in Philippines – Xinhua – June 19, 2023

2 Phivolcs: Raising Mayon’s alert level unlikely for now- PNA – June 21, 2023

3 Mayon – Geological summary – GVP

Featured image credit: Copernicus EU/Sentinel-2, kosmi

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2 Comments

  1. Quote: “at least 628 individuals aged between 2 to 64 years old have contracted various illnesses, including fever, coughs, colds, gastroenteritis, acute respiratory infection, and skin disease.” (end quote)
    Did they get ill because of exposure to “gasses and other stuff” from the eruption or because of they were evacuated and had to live in close quarters?
    Egil

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