SORSOGON CITY – A loud rumbling sound that rolled for 11 minutes roused from their sleep residents near the foot of Mt. Bulusan shortly after Thursday midnight, as the volcano exploded anew and spewed thick volume of volcanic ash reaching as high as five kilometers from its summit.
It was a phreatic type of explosion, the 12th since the volcano, located some 30 kilometers southeast of this city, was placed by government volcanologists under alert Level 1 over three years ago, according to Crispulo Diolata, the resident volcanologist of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) based in Barangay Cabid-an here.
Under alert Level 1, the public is reminded not to enter the four-kilometer radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) because sudden hazardous explosions are likely to affect the area.
Diolata said the ash explosion that was accompanied by the rumbling sound heard within the five-kilometer radius at the foot of the volcano took place at 12:25 a.m. and the ash carried by the easterly winds reached as far as Pilar, Sorsogon, some 50 kilometers from the volcano.
Heavily affected by the ash fall were 12 barangays of the municipalities of Irosin, Juban and Casiguran, all located within the northwest quadrant of the volcano where 10 high frequency volcanic quakes were also felt before the explosion, Diolata said.
Local health authorities have advised residents in these areas to wear dust masks to avoid inhaling the ash that could trigger asthma and other respiratory disease attacks while disaster management officials said they were still evaluating as of Friday morning the extent of damages to crops and properties of the ash fall.
Jose Lopez, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office chief, said another huge volume of volcanic debris had been deposited at the volcano’s slopes which certainly would be carried down as lahar by flashfloods during the next rainy period.
Given such apprehension, Lopez said residents along river channels and crevices down Mt. Bulusan should be vigilant against lahar flows that may endanger their lives and properties when rains come.
He also advised municipal and barangay disaster and risk management authorities to be ready with their evacuation plans for their residents in flood and lahar flow prone communities should heavy rains again pelt the area. (Danny O. Calleja/PNA)