After ash eruption of Mt. Kanlaon panicking Negrenses urged to wear masks, stay at home

Marchel P. Espina (The Freeman) - December 28, 2015 - 9:00am

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines — Negrenses are urged to wear masks and to stay at home following the ash eruption of Mount Kanlaon in Negros Oriental, Sunday.

Zeaphard Caelian, chief of Provincial Disaster Management Program Division, said that the ash fall from the volcano affected some localities in the province, which had caused panic to the residents.

In an advisory issued by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, the ash eruption from the active crater of Mount Kanlaon occurred at 1:29 p.m. and lasted for five minutes.

The Phivolcs report said that rumbling sound was heard in Barangay Cabagnaan, La Castellana town and Barangays Ara-al and Yubo in La Carlota City, both in Negros Occidental.

Further, the same report said that the eruption plum was observed through cloud cover, adding that traces of light ashfall were reported in La Carlota City and Pontevedra town, in this province.

According to Caelian, the direction of the wind from the eruption is southwest, which is why some local government units here were affected by the ash fall. He said there’s no need for the public to panic as the ash eruption was just a “phreatic activity” of the volcano.

Though, he stressed that the sulphur from the ash fall is hazardous to one’s health as it is carcinogenic, which can cause cancer. He added that it can also trigger asthma and pulmonary problems.

He said that “the children, the elderly and those with asthma should not be exposed,” adding that they “they have to protect themselves from the ash fall.” He reiterated his advice to the public to wear masks and stay at home.

All health officers were directed to distribute masks in their respective localities, Caelian said.

He said that they will continue to monitor the volcano’s activity, but noted that the alert level was not raised by the Phivolcs as there’s no build-up of lava or magma.

 For his part, Arnel Gareza, head of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office in Pontevedra town, said that the ash fall caused dense clouds and “darkness” in their locality, which lasted for 15 minutes.

He said that it’s not the ash fall that they first notice but the smell of the sulphur which came with it, “because of the smell, we came out of the office and saw that it was dark outside.”

He said that the skies are clearer now but there are still two villages – Canroma and Antipolo — that are still experiencing light ash fall.

He said that barangay health workers had already distributed masks to the affected localities.

Meanwhile, Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo said that the provincial government is closely coordinating with the concerned local government units and government agencies to oversee the movement of Kanlaon volcano.

“We are reminding residents who will be directly affected to be watchful in case Kanlaon erupts; and cooperate with the authorities and listen to advisories,” Degamo urged.

Since November 23, Mount Kanlaon remained under Alert Level 1 status – it is at an abnormal condition and is in period of current unrest.

Local government units and the public are reminded that entry into the four-kilometer radius Permanent Danger Zone is strictly prohibited due to the further possibilities of sudden and hazardous steam-driven or phreatic eruptions. Civil aviation authorities should also advise pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit, Phivolcs said.

Phivolcs is closely monitoring the volcano’s activity, the report said.

The Office of the Civil Defense in the Negros Island Region had already prepared a comprehensive contingency plan in case there will be major eruption.

The contingency plan will serve as protocol for affected LGUs in coming up with their respective plans and measures. (FREEMAN)

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