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Mayon tourists warned of phreatic eruptions

Cet Dematera (The Philippine Star) - March 1, 2021 - 12:00am

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines — Tourists, especially riders of all-terrain vehicles (ATV) and trekkers, have been told to be wary of sudden phreatic eruptions when going around the slopes of Mayon Vocano in Albay.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) issued the warning after the local government of Legazpi reopened the city to tourists.

Paul Alanis, resident volcanologist at the Phivolcs‘ Lignon Hill Observatory, said ATV riders must not go beyond the six-kilometer permanent danger zone (PDZ).

Trekkers are only allowed up to Camp One or at around 2,500-foot elevation.

“If they go beyond the prohibited zones, they are doing it at their own risk,” Alanis told The STAR yesterday.

Alanis cited an incident in 2013 involving four foreigners and their Filipino tour guide, who died when Mayon suddenly erupted while they were on the upper slopes.

“Considering the condition of Mayon, which is still abnormal and its erratic characteristics of suddenly having phreatic explosions, these people would be taking high risk should they go beyond the prohibited areas,” Alanis warned.

Those visiting the “black lava” site, which is located within the six-kilometer PDZ, cannot demand immediate rescue should any untoward incident occur, he added.

Mayor Noel Rosal officially reopened the city to tourists last week on condition that visitors would observe all health and safety protocols.

Rosal clarified that only foreigners who have been residing in the country prior to the pandemic are allowed to visit Legazpi.

Rosal is optimistic that the reopening would attract visitors to the city’s popular tourist spots and activities.

“Even prior to the reopening, we have been getting messages from foreign and domestic visitors expressing interest to visit Legazpi and enjoy its offered adventures such us the ATV rides and strolling along the Legazpi City Boulevard while savoring the breeze from the Albay Gulf,” Rosal said.                                                

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