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Bulusan continues to rumble (Phivolcs warns of more volcanic explosions)

source: Ellalyn B. De Vera |

Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon province continues to spew ash and steam, prompting authorities to raise the alert level. (EPA)
Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon province continues to spew ash and steam, prompting authorities to raise the alert level. (EPA)

MANILA, Philippines — Restive Mt. Bulusan in Sorsogon spewed another cloud of ash on Monday, reaching about 700 meters above the crater’s summit.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) recorded 28 volcanic earthquakes during the past 24 hours. It also expects more explosions in the coming days.

At 6:45 a.m. on Monday, Phivolcs noted a steam-driven ash explosion that lasted about five minutes.

It said the explosion produced a brownish to light grayish ash cloud, which rose about 700 meters above the crater.

Volcanologist July Sabit said five barangays located west and southwest of the volcano’s crater were affected by “traces of ash.”

These areas include barangays Calateo and Buraburan in Juban town, and barangays Cogon, Bulas and Gulang-Gulang in Irosin town.

“The recent ash explosions are more or less typical of Bulusan’s activity during its restive period,” Phivolcs noted.

It has already dispatched its quick response team to augment the monitoring networks around the volcano.

“We expect that more explosions will occur in the coming days due to the volcano’s recent reactivation. But there are no indications that there will be a strong explosion. This could be similar to the Bulusan’s activity in 2006-2007,” Sabit said.

Due to its present activity, the status of Bulusan Volcano is maintained under Alert Level 1 (rendering abnormal activity).

It reiterated that areas within four kilometers of the summit has been designated a Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ).

“Public is strongly advised not to venture inside this area because it may be affected by sudden steam explosions,” it said.

Meanwhile, the people residing near valleys and streams are also advised to be vigilant against sediment-laden stream flows in the event of heavy and continuous rainfall.

Sabit also pointed out that the current activity in Bulusan Volcano is not in any way connected to the eruption of Mount Merapi in Indonesia.

Mount Merapi, an active volcano located in central Java, started to erupt on Oct. 26.

“Even if both volcanoes are near each other, they have different magma chambers. Volcanoes anywhere in the world are very eccentric. Mount Merapi’s eruption did not cause Mount Bulusan’s restiveness,” Sabit explained.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) said it is ready to respond to the impending eruption of Bulusan Volcano in Sorsogon and issued safety guidelines to the public.

“With the alert level status of Bulusan Volcano in Sorsogon raised at Level 1, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) prepared its Red Cross 143 volunteers, emergency response units and disaster response teams for possible deployment should the volcano erupt,” PRC said in a statement.

The disaster response organization also released the following reminders on what to do before, during and after a volcanic eruption.

Before a volcanic eruption, PRC said the public should stay away from low areas where landslides may occur. There should also be no tree cutting activity as well as trees serve as protection from the harmful effects of lahar.

“Build temporary but strong shelter or building. Always stand by for updates on volcanic eruption from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Philvolcs); Keep the first aid kit within easy reach and make sure a vehicle can be used to evacuate,” PRC said.

During a volcanic eruption and when an ashfall is present, PRC advised the evacuation of people with lung diseases and for the public to cover their noses with a wet rag.

“Stay inside the house or evacuation center. Be cautious, alert and calm if you need to go out. Stop driving when there is an ash fall as this may obstruct the view and cause accidents. If the erupting volcano is near the sea, stay away from the shore. A volcanic eruption can also cause tsunami.”

PRC advised the local government to strictly prohibit the people from going to areas near the volcanic eruption and to advise them to stay in the evacuation center, especially those who have asthma, cough and other similar diseases.

“After a volcanic eruption, go back to your homes only if advised by the barangay captain, Phivolcs or your local disaster coordinating council,” PRC added.

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