OCHA Flash Update No.1 Philippines | Mayon Volcano Eruption, 22 January 2018

Situation Overview

On 22 January 2018, alert level-4 (hazardous eruption imminent) was raised over Mayon Volcano located in Albay province, 300 km southeast of Manila. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) raised the alert level after a 10 km high ash column spewed out of the volcano at around 12:45 p.m. Alert level-3 (increased tendency to hazardous eruption) on a five-step alert system has been in effect since 14 January, when a phreatic eruption ejected ash and sulphur fumes accompanied by rumbling sounds. On 15 January, two eruptions caused the collapse of the lava dome that produced rock falls and small-volume pyroclastic flows. Sulfur dioxide gas emission was measured at an average of 689 tons/day on 21 January.

The danger zone has been extended to an 8 km radius, up from a previous 7 km where local authorities were advised to prevent any human activity due to the danger of rockfalls, landslides and sudden explosions or dome collapse that may generate hazardous volcanic flows. Civil aviation authorities are also advising pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit. Aside from the eruption danger, lahar or mudflow is a threat especially during heavy rains, which have been reported in the region, according to a PHIVOLCS press briefing on 22 January.

As of 22 January, 7,900 families (30,000 people) have evacuated from seven Albay municipalities neighbouring Mount Mayon and are temporarily sheltered in 27 evacuations centres or are being hosted by relatives and friends. The number of evacuees is expected to increase as local governments are currently evacuating villages within the extended eight-kilometre danger zone, including residents from Legazpi City who returned to their places of origin last week after pre-emptive evacuation, even though their community was outside the 6 km danger zone.

Government response and humanitarian coordination

Provincial and municipal authorities are leading the disaster response with the support of the Department of Social Welfare field office and the Philippine Red Cross. The provincial government of Albay is planning for a month-long evacuation. Local officials are concerned that the funds will not sustain the relief operations for nearly 30,000 evacuees and have requested for food, water, sanitation and hygiene as well as other non-food items, and temporary learning spaces from the national government and partners.

OCHA fielded a team to Legazpi City on 17 January to assist local authorities and assess needs. The Philippine Red Cross have set up first aid stations and welfare desks to provide psychosocial support to affected individuals. International and local humanitarian actors are currently monitoring the situation and stand ready to provide relief assistance.

For more information, contact:
Mark Bidder, Head of Office, bidder@un.org, Mobile: +63-917-524-2928
Gina Maramag, Public Information Officer, maramag@un.org, Mobile: +63-917-597-7219
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