Philippines

Steaming Mayon still threatens Philippines' villages

Format
Situation Report
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Posted
Originally published
Written by Stephanie Kriner Staff Writer, DisasterRelief.org, with news reports
There is no threat that lava still flowing from the Mayon volcano days after a massive eruption could reach villages in the central Philippines. However, towns located at the base of the massive peak remain in danger. Warnings from scientists of possible mudslides and more eruptions have sent the message that hundreds of evacuees cramped together in schools and other shelters should stay put.

Scientists continue to closely monitor seismic activity at the 2,467-meter (8,141-foot) high Mayon, which they say could erupt again within two weeks. Although the situation is relatively calm, Mayon's slopes are bulging - a signal that magma pressure is potentially building.

Philippines seismologist Ernesto Corpuz told the Associated Press that 84 volcanic tremors hit in a 24-hour period on Wednesday. However, by Thursday (June 28) the number of seismic tremors had dropped, making immediate volcanic activity difficult to predict.

The volcano has shown signs of continued activity since Sunday (June 24) when it blew ash clouds 9 miles high and hurled red hot, house-sized boulders 2,000 feet into the air. Steam continued to pour from Mayon's crater on Thursday, cloaking the summit in sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and hyrdosulfuric acid.

Two columns of lava have flowed nearly three miles from Mayon's summit, reaching within a mile of the closest village. The steaming lava burned vegetation and seared the mountainside. However, scientists said it is traveling so slowly that it will stop before reaching the village.

Experts also have warned that seasonal rains that are falling almost daily have added to the weight of the ash deposits on the side of the volcano and could send massive avalanches of steaming mud into villages at the base of the volcano.

An ash mudflow, known as a lahar, buried a town and killed 1,200 people in Mayon's worst known eruption in 1814.

Evacuees Wait it out in Cramped Shelters

Some 41,500 evacuees who fled the volcano are crammed in 28 government-run emergency shelters, according to media reports. About half- mostly men - return to their villages daily to tend fields, water livestock and check belongings.

Others remain in what experts consider Mayon's danger zone - up to 5 miles from the volcano - to guard their belongings and tend to their vegetable crops - well known in the area for growing big and fast in the black soil.

Health experts warned that disease is a threat in the tight quarters of the shelters, located in schools, churches and other public buildings. A social welfare officer told Agence France-Presse that diarrhea had broken out in one.

The government is providing plastic mats, blankets and mosquito nets to improve the sleeping conditions, while the health department supplied water purification facilities to reduce the risk of a disease outbreak.

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DisasterRelief
DisasterRelief.org is a unique partnership between the American Red Cross, IBM and CNN dedicated to providing information about disasters and their relief operations worldwide. The three-year-old website is a leading disaster news source and also serves as a conduit for those wishing to donate to disaster relief operations around the globe through the international Red Cross movement. American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. To help the victims of disaster, you may make a secure online credit card donation or call 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Or you may send your donation to your local Red Cross or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013. The American Red Cross is dedicated to helping make families and communities safer at home and around the world. The Red Cross is a volunteer-led humanitarian organization that annually provides almost half the nation's blood supply, trains nearly 12 million people in vital life-saving skills, mobilizes relief to victims in more than 60,000 disasters nationwide, provides direct health services to 2.5 million people, assists international disaster and conflict victims in more than 20 countries, and transmits more than 1.4 million emergency messages to members of the Armed Forces and their families. If you would like information on Red Cross services and programs please contact your local Red Cross. © Copyright, The American National Red Cross. All Rights Reserved.