WATCH | PHIVOLCS raises Mayon alert level to 4, or ‘hazardous eruption imminent’

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MANILA – The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has raised the alert level for Mayon Volcano to Alert Level 4, meaning “hazardous eruption (is) imminent,” according to the PHIVOLCS website.

The announcement was made by Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum, Jr. early Monday afternoon.

Officials also extended the danger zone to eight kilometers, from the previous six kilometers for most of the volcano’s surroundings and seven kilometers for the south side of the volcano.

This is because if Mayon has a “vertical eruption,” the pyroclastic flow may spew in all directions.

According to Solidum, they monitored “summit explosions” earlier on Monday, as well as heightened seismic activity from the volcano.

‘Yung mga summit explosion kanina ay hindi kasintaas ng mga nakaraang eruptions na nakita natin na talagang explosive na, ‘yung nagkaroon na ng Alert Level 5. Sa tingin namin dahil yung kulay po nung abo ay hindi masyadong maitim, minsan may mga usok pa, sa tingin namin ay may halong, maliban sa magma, ay may halong tubig. Kaya sa tingin namin ‘yung pagsabog ay hindi purely magmatic kundi phreatomagmatic, kasi nga may mga steam o usok. At malakas ang tunog dahil pwedeng mag-jetting ung gas, pero basa ito (The summit explosions earlier were not as high as previous eruptions which we saw were explosive, where Alert Level 5 was raised. We think that because the color of the ash was not too dark, sometimes there was even steam, so we think it is a mix of, aside from magma, is there is water too. So we think the eruption will not be purely magmatic, but phreatomagmatic, because there was steam… And it will be loud because the gas may jet up, but this will be wet),” Solidum explained.

He added, “Kaya kung mapapansin niyo ‘yung nangyari pong huling pagsabog kanina mula sa tuktok ay hindi masyadong mataas pero dumausdos pababa at gumulong ang mga bato at pira-pirasong abo, kasama ang gas, pabulusok doon sa loob ng six-kilometer permanent danger zone. Ine-estimate pa namin kung gaano kalayo ang inabot, mga between siguro three to four kilometers (If you’ll notice, the last summit explosions weren’t too high but the rocks and pieces of ash, as well as gas, flowed downward, to the area of the six-kilometer permanent danger zone. We are still estimating how far it reached; it’s probably between three to four kilometers).”

Visibility is difficult on the roads around Mayon, as this and photo below show, owing to the thick smoke and ashfall. NEWS5

PEOPLE, AIRPLANES WARNED

He advised the public not to enter the eight-kilometer danger zone, and airplanes not to fly near the summit and in areas where the wind might blow volcanic debris.

Solidom added that they will continue to monitor Mayon closely and will issue advisories should there be unusual activity from the volcano.

Asked what the public can expect in the next 24 hours, he explained that there is no difference between Alert Level 4 and 5. The latter is a statement that there is a hazardous eruption, and it is important that PHIVOLCS give the public lead time “bago magkaroon ng sunud-sunod na pagsabog (before back-to-back eruptions occur),” he said.

Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara suspended classes at all levels per a 1:00 p.m. advisory on Monday, although he did not say up to when it will be effective.

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