Over 5,000 Albay residents evacuate due to Mayon Volcano ash eruptions

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – More than 5,000 people in 3 municipalities of Albay fled their homes due to the restive Mayon Volcano on Sunday, January 14.

Two more phreatic or steam-driven eruptions were recorded on Sunday – one at 8:49 am and another at noon.

According to the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO), 1,547 families or 5,857 persons evacuated from Camalig, Guinobatan, and Malilipot.

The evacuation had begun on Saturday evening, January 13, due to the ash eruption at 4:21 pm that day.

The APSEMO had ordered the evacuation of residents inside the 6-kilometer (km) permanent danger zone (PDZ).

The 6-km PDZ includes the barangays of Quirangay, Sua, Tumpa, and Tinubran in Camalig; Tandarora and Maninila in Guinobatan; Miisi, Budiao, and Matnog in Daraga; Calbayog and Canaway in Malilipot; Buang, Buhian, and Magapo in Tabaco City; and Baligang and Amtic in Ligao City.

Residents outside the 6-km PDZ who are experiencing ashfall should also take precautionary measures.

"Please wear [a] protective dust mask or wet, damp cloth to cover your nose and mouth," Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara said.

ASHFALL. A man uses a white cloth to cover his mouth and nose in Camalig, Albay amid ashfall from the Mayon Volcano.

Bichara also suspended preschool to senior high school classes for Monday, January 15, in all public and private schools covered by the evacuation order.

"Suspension of classes will take effect tomorrow (Monday) until lifted in all public and private schools situated in identified barangays where classrooms are being used by Mayon evacuees in order to give these schools ample time to organize [a] special scheme of classes," he said.

The Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) also went on white alert following the raising of the Mayon Volcano alert from Level 1 to Level 2.

Dr Eric Raborar said the hospital's emergency department is on standby for possible cases related to the ash eruptions.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) advised civil aviation authorities to tell pilots "to avoid flying close to the volcano's summit as ash from any sudden eruption can be hazardous to aircraft."

"Based on the seasonal wind pattern, ashfall events may most likely occur on the southwest side of the volcano," added Phivolcs. – Rappler.com