LEGAZPI CITY: The resident volcanologist in Bicol has warned that Mayon Volcano may erupt anytime as indicated by its bulging edifice and other signs of abnormalities, such as volcanic quakes, sulfur gas emissions, lava dome at the crater rim, crater glow and ash explosion. Mount Mayon’s alert status remains at Level 2, which means the volcano remains in a state of unrest that from all indications may lead to a magmatic explosion.
“The magma beneath the Mayon Volcano is building up towards the crater, which signifies a heightened unrest that might lead to a hazardous explosion anytime,” said Ed Laguerta, resident official of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) in Bicol.
He said Phivolcs’ ground deformation survey shows the volcano has been inflated by 9.0mm since February 2008 as it continues to swell by 5.0mm.
Laguerta said that the sulfur dioxide gas emitted by the volcano continues to swing within the range of 206 tons to 252 tons a day in the past three days. He said the agency’s FlySpec instruments failed to read sulfur gas emission rate on Wednesday because of cloudy skies.
“The bad weather condition affecting Albay hinders thorough monitoring of volcanic activity,” he said.
On Wednesday, boulders as big as cars tumbled down from the foot of Mayon to the national highway of Padang following the heavy rainfall because of northeast monsoon affecting Luzon and Visayas regions.
The regional center site and seats of the national government agencies in Padang were almost swept by rampaging flash floods associated with volcanic activity.
In Camalig town, Dante Baclao, chief provincial engineer, said the dike that protects the area from rampaging flash floods has collapsed.
Navy Lt. Darwin Nieva, Regional Disaster Coordination Council spokesman, said the moderate to heavy rains spawned by the northeast monsoon caused volcanic debris to cascade down the volcano’s slopes. The rains also submerged portions of the Maharlika Highways in the town of Camalig and Barangay Padang in floodwaters.
The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol has also issued a General Flood Advisory raising alert status in areas prone to floods, lahar and landslides. These are Cadacan and Matnog rivers in Sorsogon; Cabuyan, Bato and Pajo rivers in Catanduanes, and Mayon Volcano slopes and river channels in Albay.
“The OCD advisory directed all local disaster council in these areas to be on heightened alert for possible lahar, floods and landslides brought by moderate to heavy rains,” Nieva said.
Phivolcs seismic networks at the Lignon Hill observatory detected six high and low frequency earthquakes on Wednesday, bringing to 110 the total volcanic quakes recorded in a week (October 26 to November 1).
Gov. Joey Salceda of Bicol reiterated to the military and police the need to keep the off-limit regulation strictly enforced in the 6-km radius Permanent Danger Zone and the 7-km Extended Danger Zone on the southeast flank of the volcano.
Salceda had said the province is be facing a combo disaster should Mayon Volcano erupt amid the bad weather condition.
He also advised the residents near the volcano’s river channels and in areas on the path of lahar flow in the southeast sector to stay alert, especially during heavy and prolonged rainfall.