Negros Occidental town suspends classes as Mount Kanlaon emits sulfur fumes
NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – Classes were suspended in La Castellana town here on Friday, November 17, after Mount Kanlaon emitted sulfur fumes.
Mount Kanlaon remained on Alert Level 2, or in “moderate level of unrest.”
On November 15, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised the alert status of Mount Kanlaon from Alert Level 1 to Alert Level 2 after it recorded 279 volcanic earthquakes in the last 24 hours.
The following day, on Thursday, Phivolcs recorded 210 volcanic earthquakes for 24 hours.
Phivolcs, in its Friday advisory, said it only monitored 10 volcanic earthquakes in the past 24 hours.
However, residents in La Castellana town complained about the odor coming from the active volcano.
This prompted La Castellana Mayor Rhumyla Mangilimutan to order the suspension of classes in the 6 barangays, which were in the danger zones. These are Barangays Sag-ang, Mansalanao, Cabagnaan, Biaknabato, Masulog, and Puso.
The mayor said classes suspension in other barangays were up to the discretion of the principal.
She added the odor was gone Friday afternoon.
Mangilimutan said the residents, especially in the danger zones, were already informed about the situation.
The barangay leaders and the community-based disaster councils were also told to prepare and be on alert, she added.
She said school officials were also advised to be ready as their institutions will be utilized as evacuation centers.
The mayor also said that food packs were being readied.
For his part, Zeaphard Gerhart Caelian, head of Negros Occidental Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Division, said Phivolcs has checked the area, but has yet to release its findings.
Caelian said even if the volcano's activities have dropped, it remained under Alert Level 2.
He explained only Phivolcs can lower its alert status, "until such time the volcano is stabilized based on their own parameters."
Moreover, he said they coordinated with the Mount Kanlaon National Park superintendent for monitoring of the volcano’s activities.
"We strengthen our communication. Whatever problems they encounter on the ground, we ask them to relay the information right away because they are within the proximity of the volcano," he said.
He also appealed to the public to be careful when sharing information especially online about Mount Kanlaon as not to cause panic.
He reminded the public to always verify with the right agencies or authorities whatever information they receive.
Local government units in the province had already prepared a comprehensive contingency plan in case there will be major eruption.
Mount Kanlaon is the highest point in the Visayas at 2,465 meters (8,087 feet) above sea level. It straddles the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental. – Rappler.com