Mount Bulusan Erupts for the 5th Time --Phivolcs

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 12  -- Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon province belched on Friday morning a voluminous ash plume 700 meters above its crater rim that drifted and covered villages in the southwest flank of the volcano, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.

Phivolcs said the phreatic explosion occurred at 6:59 a.m., sending light gray ash column that was accompanied by rumbling sounds, a typical characteristic of Bulusan's restive state.

Ash falls were reported in the villages in the towns of Irosin and Juban.

Phivolcs seismic instruments recorded a total of four volcanic earthquakes during the past 24 hours.

Prior to the ash explosion, weak steaming was observed from the crater during times of good visibility, Phivolcs said.

Ed Laguerta, Phivolcs resident volcanologist, said Friday’s phreatic explosion had brought to five the ash and steam explosions since Nov. 6 when the volcano showed signs of restlessness, prompting the agency to raise its alert status to Level 1.

Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum said following an aerial survey on Thursday that the series of explosions at the summit of the volcano resulted to the joining of two explosion craters of the 2006-2007 eruptions into one crater.

He also observed that ash deposits of the Nov. 9 explosions indicated that the ash grains are old and no new material from the magma is involved.

Alert Level 1 remains in effect over Bulusan Volcano.

Villagers, as well as tourist, were advised to keep out of the designated four-kilometer Permanent Danger Zone due to danger posed by sudden phreatic or ash explosions.

Pilots were likewise advised to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit as ejected ash and volcanic fragments from sudden explosions may pose hazards to aircraft.

Meanwhile, the Bicol Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (DRRMC) the other day requested the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) regional office in Bicol to coordinate with local government units (LGUs) in Sorsogon affected by the Bulusan volcanic activities regarding the use of their respective calamity fund.

Chief Supt. Cecillo Calleja, Philippine National Police (PNP) regional director, told members of the DRRMC at a council meeting that newly-elected town mayors in eruption- affected municipalities in Sorsogon expressed their lack of knowledge with the ways in using their respective calamity funds.

Under the General Appropriations Act (GAA), LGUs could use five percent of their 20 percent economic development fund for calamity purposes provided the Sangguniang Panlalawigan or Sangguniang Bayan pass a resolution placing the area under a “state of calamity.”

Bernardo Alejandro, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) director and concurrent DRRMC chair, explained that aside from placing a locality under a state of calamity, an executive order issued by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has given local chief executives authority to use their calamity fund for disaster preparedness measures.

Alejandro asked the DILG to facilitate and inform town chief executives in Sorsogon regarding the proper use of the calamity funds.

He said that “once they learn about the use of the calamity funds, they can start with their contingency measures.” (PNA)