Gov’t agencies ready measures to ease impact of Bulusan eruptions

By , , on May 8, 2015

Mount Bulusan (Wikipedia photo)
Mount Bulusan (Wikipedia photo)

MANILA — Various government agencies have activated their respective preparedness plans and measures to ease the impact of eruption of Bulusan Volcano on the lives and properties in Sorsogon in the Bicol region.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Thursday raised the alert level of Bulusan Volcano from Alert Level 0 (normal) to Alert Level 1 (abnormal), which indicates that hydrothermal processes may be underway beneath the volcano that may lead to more steam-driven eruptions.

During a meeting held in National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) headquarters on Friday, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said it has prepared family food packs, now on standby in case of evacuation.

DSWD are also in the process of finalizing funds in Region 5.

The Department of Health (DOH) has already distributed face masks to the people lying in the 4 km permanent danger zone to protect them for possible respiratory problem. It also distributed IEC (Information Education Communication) materials to the people living nearby Mt. Bulusan.

DOH also said that standby medical teams and vehicles are ready to dispatch anytime.

The Philippine Red Cross has dispatched a standby team in Sorsogon and also preparing to deliver two water tankers in areas that will be affected by typhoon “Dodong”.

The Department of Interior and Local Government are coordinating to Local Government Units (LGUs) to ensure efficient and timely volcanic bulletins from Phivolcs.

LGUs also activated different response units in their offices, operation centers, medical and rescue teams.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) noted that the southern Luzon command was already been alerted in a form of two standby helicopters in Legaspi and additional vehicles are also made available in case of evacuation.

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) cited that pilots have been advised not to pass the airways near the Bulusan Volcano. Pilots were also advised to avoid ash clouds.

DOTC said that airports in Sorsogon near the 4 km danger zone were closed for precaution purposes.

Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) installed warning informative signs for possible rerouting of vehicles.

DPWH said that some personnel were already deployed to municipalities surrounding Bulusan Volcano and attended coordination meeting with the municipalities.

Earlier, Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum Jr, explained that steam-driven eruptions, called “phreatic” eruptions, occur when water makes contact with hot rock inside the volcano causing steam. Due to pressure build-up, the steam escapes through the crater explosively.

Such explosions are typical to Bulusan during restive periods, when its hydrothermal system is disturbed or when steam accumulates and pressurizes at the shallow levels of the volcanic edifice.

With this development, the Phivolcs noted the local government units and the public are reminded that entry to the 4-kilometer radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) is strictly prohibited due to the possibility of sudden and hazardous steam-driven or phreatic eruptions.

The civil aviation authorities must also advise pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit as ash from any sudden phreatic eruption can be hazardous to aircraft. Furthermore, people living within valleys and along river/stream channels should be vigilant against sediment-laden stream flows and lahars in the event of heavy and prolonged rainfall. DOST-PHIVOLCS is closely monitoring Bulusan Volcano’s condition and any new development will be relayed to all concerned.

Mount Bulusan is about 70 km southeast of Mayon Volcano, which is in Albay, and about 250 km southeast of Manila.