Ashfall warning up around Mayon
Ghio Ong, Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - September 27, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Up to eight areas in Albay province could be affected by possible ashfall from Mayon Volcano, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned yesterday.

A special weather forecast issued at 10 a.m. yesterday said the areas that may be affected during ashfall occurrence are Camalig, Guinobatan, Pio Duran, Daraga, Jovellar, Ligao, Oas and Polangui.

PAGASA said partly cloudy to cloudy skies with possible afternoon rain showers and thunderstorms are also expected over these areas.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines on Thursday warned commercial planes and private-owned small aircraft against volcanic ash fall coming from Mayon. CAAP issued an Ashfall Notice-to-Airmen (Ashtam) based on the orange alert of Phivolcs, which said the ash fall may affect aircraft visibility.

After six days of quiet, Mayon Volcano seems geared for an explosive eruption as volcanic earthquakes and rockfall events are now related to magma ascent towards the crater, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said yesterday.

As of 5:00 a.m. yesterday, seismic sensors on various levels of the 2,562-meter volcano detected nine volcanic quakes, eight of which were short duration harmonic tremors indicating the resumption of magma ascent towards the crater, said Phivolcs senior scientist Paul Alanis.

Volcanic tremors are continuous earthquakes signifying a rising column of magma driven by the pressure inside the column.

“The lava dome is also growing,” Alanis said.

“The worse-case scenario of Mayon Volcano is the possibility of an explosive eruption, which removes the lava dome that is blocking the crater. No eruption which blows off the crater was recorded yet,” he added.

The emergence of a lava dome is typical of Mayon prior to its eruption as it was also observed in 1978, 1984, 2000, 2001, 2006 and 2009.

The present lave dome is so far the “biggest,” Alanis said.

The six rockfall events, meanwhile, were due to the magma movement and the collapse of a part of the 855,000-cubic meter lava dome, which blocks the magma ascent in the middle of the crater.

“Mayon is now in the right condition to erupt because the lava is on the crater,” Alanis said.

He also said that it is better for Mayon to erupt now that the lava dome is only partially blocking the 250-meter wide crater “so that it would not be very strong and violent.”

As of yesterday, the alert level was still at 3, which means that hazardous eruption is possible within weeks. Alanis recounted that in 2009, Alert Level 4 was raised two weeks before Mayon erupted.

Albay is predicting that at least 17,000 families will move to evacuation centers should Alert Level 4 be raised over Mayon.

All evacuees covered by CCT, PhilHealth

Currently, more than 11,000 families are in evacuation centers and all of them are placed under the automatic coverage of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program and Philippine Health Insurance Corp., Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said yesterday.

“This means that our evacuees would now enjoy the benefits of CCT enrollees and PhilHealth beneficiaries while they are in their designated evacuation centers, with no need to comply with the usual requirements and validations,” Salceda told a media briefing.

A CCT family enrollee is entitled to P1,400 subsidy per month; P500 for the couple and P300 for each child for a maximum of three. With Cet Dematera, Celso Amo

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