Pinatubo breaching a ‘success’
- Ding Cervantes () - September 8, 2001 - 12:00am
BOTOLAN, Zambales — With the breaching of Mt. Pinatubo’s crater lake turning out to be safe and uneventful, authorities allowed thousands of villagers of 11 of 18 affected barangays here to return home yesterday.

President Arroyo, who visited evacuees at the Loob-bunga resettlement site, said the breaching was "successful."

Chief government volcanologist Raymundo Punongbayan said the possibility of a worst-case scenario has been reduced from 20 to mere five percent, noting the smooth flow of water through a 110-meter long canal which Aeta workers had dug at the crater lake’s lowest point or the Maraunot notch.

At 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Punongbayan said the flow of water increased at an equivalent rate of 100,000 cubic meters per day.

"We expect the lake to be drained of one million cubic meters of water within 10 days," he added.

Earlier, Punongbayan blamed faulty design by Department of Public Works and Highways engineers for the slow flow of water Thursday morning.

The faulty gradient of the canal prompted Aeta workers to dig deeper, thus increasing the flow of water.

Mrs. Arroyo said the breaching was a success and declared that Botolan villagers are now safe. She lauded local officials, the police and military and the Aeta workers who were involved in the breaching and evacuation.

The President arrived here aboard a helicopter. She motored to the Loob-bunga resettlement site to distribute relief goods to evacuees from Barangays San Juan and Paudpod.

Godofredo Velasco, the provincial disaster coordinating council’s head, said there were a total of 40,000 evacuees and that residents of Barangays San Juan, Paudpod, Karael, Porac, Bangan, San Miguel and Pako — still classified as "high-risk" areas — have to remain in evacuation centers.

Velasco said several non-government groups have also been extending help to the evacuees because the stocks of relief goods of the provincial and municipal governments may only last for two days. With Bebot Sison Jr.

AETA BARANGAYS SAN JUAN BARANGAYS SAN JUAN AND PAUDPOD DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS AND HIGHWAYS GODOFREDO VELASCO MRS. ARROYO MT. PINATUBO PRESIDENT ARROYO PUNONGBAYAN RAYMUNDO PUNONGBAYAN SAN MIGUEL AND PAKO
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