USAID Announces Humanitarian Assistance for the Philippines

Supplies and Water Purification Equipment Arrived

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator J. Brady Anderson announced today the provision of $250,000 in relief supplies and water purification equipment to assist evacuees of the Mayon Volcano eruption in the Philippines. The supplies arrived in Legaspi, Philippines on Monday, March 7th. The two water purification units arrived in Manila on March 8th.

The USAID airlift of relief supplies included 100 rolls of plastic sheeting to protect 1,000 families, three large collapsible water tanks, and 5,200 individual five-gallon water jugs. USAID also responded with an immediate provision of $50,000 to Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) to help meet the immediate needs of evacuees. Each water purification unit will serve the drinking water needs of 10,000 people per day for three months.

Volcanic activity at Mayon Volcano (located approximately 300 km southeast of Manila in Albay Province) has increased significantly in the past week. On February 24, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) raised the alert level over Mayon Volcano to level five. This indicates that a hazardous eruption is in progress and that all persons living within 8 km must be evacuated. The alert level was raised after explosion-type earthquakes occurred on the evening of February 23, accompanied by increased lava and sulfur dioxide emissions, tremors, and ground swelling. PHIVOLCS predicts that intermittent lava flow, ash eruption, and explosive activity will continue for several weeks or months. However, a larger eruption in which lava flows extend beyond 8 km cannot be ruled out.

The number of evacuees from the 8 km danger zone at the base of the Mayon Volcano is estimated to number between 70,000-80,000. Approximately 60,000 of the evacuees are living in 41 evacuation centers, while the remainder are residing with relatives living nearby.

To improve monitoring and early warning activities in the summer of 1999, USAID provided technical assistance and funding for the installation of four tiltmeters and corresponding telemetry at Mayon Volcano. This equipment, valued at between $20,000 and $40,000, is currently being used by PHIVOLC's scientists to record the volcano's activities.

USAID continues to monitor the situation in the Philippines very closely and will continue to provide additional assistance as necessary. USAID is the lead international disaster assistance agency for the United States government.

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Contact: Rekha Chalasani