P171M in aid ready for Bulusan evacuees

MANILA, Philippines – P171 million ($3.8 million) worth of food packs and other forms of relief are being ready for the thousands of people displaced from their homes by Bulusan Volcano's restive state.

Some 34,000 persons are affected by recent eruptions of the volcano in Sorsogon, one of the most active volcanoes in the country, according to Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma Jr during a DZRB interview on Sunday, June 21.

"The government continues to watch the events in Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon in order to take care of the more than 34,000 affected residents from 22 villages and 5 towns in the province of Sorsogon," he said in Filipino. (FAST FACTS: Mt Bulusan, the PH's 4th most active volcano)

The 5 affected towns are Barcelona, Bulusan, Irosin, Casiguran, and Juban.

More than 200 food backs have already been distributed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), he added. These went to residents in Iroson and Juban.

The evacuees are waiting for developments in the volcanic activities in Mount Bulusan. (READ: Bulusan watch: Managing the unpredictable)

It is still under Alert Level 1 indicating a state of abnormality, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

It erupted twice in the last week, spewing ash on Tuesday, June 16, and again on Friday, June 19. Both were phreatic or steam-driven eruptions, a type of eruption characteristic of Mount Bulusan.

A month ago, it exploded twice in the same week, first on May 1 then again on May 6.

Despite the activity, there was no sign magma was rising inside the volcano, indicating there was no impending eruption of lava, said Winchelle Ian Sevilla, the officer heading a team monitoring Bulusan.

Phivolcs Bicol resident volcanologist Ed Laguerta earlier said that if change in the chemical composition happens, stronger volcanic activity is likely to take place.

Bulusan's last destructive eruptions were from November 2010 to February 2011, eventually forcing hundreds of villagers to evacuate. There were no reports of casualties or damage.

On Sunday morning, Phivolcs recorded 3 volcanic earthquakes during the past 24 hours, indicating a restive volcano. It also detected 41 earthquakes generated by local faults, the agency's 8 am bulletin read.

Phivolcs reminded the public to stay away from the 8-kilometer (diameter) Permanent Danger Zone established around the volcano. – with reports from Pia Ranada and Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com