Mt. Bulusan calm, evacuees allowed to go home

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LEGAZPI CITY – The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol said local disaster councils in Irosin town have allowed thousands of evacuees to return to their respective homes on Tuesday except for the 117 families or 499 people from Barangay Cogon, Irosin that are still housed in an evacuation camp because said village is located near Mount Bulusan.

Raffy Alejandro, OCD regional director, said 1,500 villagers from Barangays Monbon and Tinampo were reported to have returned to their respective homes after the volcano showed signs of calmness for the past 24 hours.

Alejandro, quoting reports from the Irosin Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC), said 32,309 people in the 17 villages were affected by the ash falls after Mount Bulusan spewed a three-kilometer high ash column that blanketed the towns of Irosin and Bulan on Monday.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) said the Maharlika Highway in the towns of Irosin and Bulan are now passable after the agency conducted ash clearing and flushing operations.

Classes in public and private elementary and secondary schools in the affected towns including Masbate City were allowed to resume.

The Irosin disaster risk reduction management council distributed thousands of masks to residents, provided foods to evacuees and set up a community kitchen and health center at the Gallanosa Elementary School compound.

Mount Bulusan, after spewing an ash column on Monday, was rocked by 16 volcanic quakes, two of which were “phreatic” events, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said today.

Bulusan Volcano’s status remains at Alert Level 1 meaning the source of activity is hydrothermal and shallow that might cause sudden explosions and ash ejections and volcanic fragments.

The public is warned not to venture inside the four-kilometer radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ), since the area is at risk to sudden steam and ash explosions, and residents in the northwest and southwest sectors of the volcano are reminded to take precautions against ash falls.

People living near valleys and river/stream channels are advised to be vigilant against sediment-laden stream flows and lahar in the event of heavy and prolonged rainfall.  (Mar S. Arguelles, PNA)


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