By Connie B. Destura, PNA
LEGAZPI CITY, May 7, 2013 – The Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) has sent rescue teams to Sto. Domingo, Bacacay and Malilipot towns to scour the downslopes of Mayon Volcano for reported casualties in the wake of ash explosion this morning.
A report said three groups of mountaineers were still up in Mayon Volcano, with about 20 climbers still in Camp 2.
Still unconfirmed reports have it that four climbers, including foreigners, are already dead, according to a tour guide identified as Kenneth Jesalva.
The Mayon Volcano produced at about 8:25 a.m., Tuesday, a small phreatic event that lasted for about 73 seconds, according to Albay PDRRMC chair and Gov. Joey Salceda.
A phreatic explosion, a steam-driven one, is caused by the pressure of heat that developed underneath the volcano, causing a steam that pushed ash up and come out as ash cloud, explained Ed Laguerta, resident volcanologist of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
“It is like a heated pressure cooker,” Laguerta added.
Residents noted that it rained Monday night and said rainwater could have reached the superheated magma inside the volcano, thus, producing steam.
Laguerta said Mayon last erupted in 2009.
The veteran volcanologist said there is a set of detecting equipment available, including a seismograph, which was to be installed yet after election but “was overtaken by event.”
The gray-to-brown ash cloud Mayon emitted reached about 500 meters above the summit and drifted west-southwest towards Guinobatan town, Salceda said.
No volcanic earthquake was detected within the past 24-hour observation period, he added, saying seismic and gas emission parameters remain within background levels and indicate no intensification of volcanic activity.
The Phivolcs is maintaining the Alert Level 0 status, which means that no eruption is imminent.
However, small phreatic explosions, including small steam and ash ejections, may occur suddenly with little or no warning, it added.
Salceda strongly advised the public to refrain from entering the six-kilometer radius permanent danger zone due to the threat of sudden steam-driven eruptions and rock falls from the upper and middle slopes of the volcano.(PNA)