Philippines

Philippines: Red Cross prepares for possible volcanic eruption

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By Alexander Rosete, head of communications, Philippines Red Cross

The alert level for Mt. Mayon in the Philippines has been raised to 4, meaning a hazardous eruption could be imminent. As of today, December 22, the volcano continued to show an intense level of activity, reinforcing fears that a hazardous explosive eruption in possible.

The Philippines Red Cross (PRC) has been coordinating evacuation drills and the distribution and pre-positioning of relief items with local government units (LGUs). Staff and volunteers in the Albay Chapter of PRC are on high alert and remain on stand by around the clock.

A total of 44,637 persons or 9,276 families have been evacuated our of harm's way from the municipalities of Daraga, Camalig, Legazpi City, Tobaco City, Malilipot, Sto. Domingo, Ligao City and Guinobatan. Volunteers were also assigned to the evacuation centers to carry out health assessment and hygiene promotion activities.

The Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology has gradually expanded the danger zone around the volcano up to eight kilometers. No human presence or activity is allowed within the zone, and people just outside have been alerted to prepare for speedy evacuation in case of a volcanic eruption. However, people continue to risk entering the danger zone to tend to fields and livestock.

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) emission rates remain very high and were measured at an average of 6,529 tons per day (t/d) yesterday. Intensified crater glow was observed during a short cloud break last night.

Red hot lava also continuously flowed down along the Bonga-Buyuan, Miisi and Lidong gullies and has reached about 5 kilometers from the summit.

"Our disaster response capacity and disaster risk reduction operations will be strongly tested with the imminent eruption of Mayon volcano," said PRC Chairman Senator Richard Gordon. "We have been warned over and over regarding the imminent explosion therefore, we must do our best to avoid casualties," he added.

For further information or to arrange media interviews please contact:

Alexander Rosete in Manila: +63 9175093061

Jason Smith in Kuala Lumpur: +60 123 87 0829

Paul Conneally in Geneva: +41 79 308 9809

Lasse Norgarrd in Bangkok: +66.89.635.7177