Thousands evacuated in Sorsogon as Dodong nears
LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Provincial authorities began on Friday, May 8, the mandatory pre-emptive evacuation of 2,000 families who have refused to leave their homes at the foot of Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon, in preparation for Typhoon Dodong (Noul).
The Office of Civil Defense Bicol (OCD5) and the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council in Sorsogon began the task Friday afternoon in Cogon village and Irosin town.
Bernardo Rafaelito Alejandro, OCD5 director and Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council chairman, said the pre-emptive evacuation of the families, numbering an estimated 11,000 people, is necessary to ensure their safety as the typhoon nears the country.
Disaster management authorities have expressed concern that expected heavy rains due to Dodong would mobilize the volcanic debris spewed by Bulusan last week and trigger lahar (mudlflows). Sorsogon is currently under public storm warning signal number 1.
On Friday, round 500 residents of farming villages around Bulusan, many of them children and elderly women, were seen boarding army trucks clutching sleeping mats and bags of clothes as Dodong bore down on the area.
"I have no choice but to evacuate. I may not be strong enough to outrun the mudflows," 66-year-old housewife Dolores Guela told Agence France-Presse.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has raised Alert Level 1 over Bulusan after it erupted twice in less than a week – on May 1, and on May 6, spewing ash at least 250 meters high. (READ: Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon erupts again)
Minor ash explosions alone would not normally prompt an evacuation, but authorities ordered one nonetheless because of the threat of mudflows from the approaching storm.
At least 4,430 passengers are stranded in various ports of the Bicol region due to Dodong. The Philippine Ports Authority in Bicol has grounded all sea crafts in 7 ports.
Aside from Sorsogion, the provinces of Albay, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, and Camarines Norte have also been placed under public storm signal number 1. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com