Mayon Volcano not yet safe for climbers

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 12 -- The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned climbers, tourists and guides against entering the six-kilometer radius permanent danger zone of Mayon Volcano as it still poses danger under alert level two.

Ed Laguerta, resident volcanologist of Phivolcs, issued the warning against any human activity, to include climbing and lava watching inside the danger zone, following queries to the Department of Tourism and Albay Provincial Disaster Coordinating Office over the week from both local and foreign tourists if they could already get near the still abnormal volcano.

Laguerta said that Phivolcs cannot yet recommend activities inside the permanent danger zone as Mayon remains abnormal at this point.

Laguerta said that condition at the 8,078-foot volcano has not return yet to normal since it still emitted sulfur dioxide (SO2) yesterday, nearly double the normal 500 tons a day.

With still high SO2 emissions, magma-related degassing is still taking place inside Mayon.

Laguerta also added that they have not yet lower the alert status of Mayon to one, which means normal condition. Alert level two remains up in the volcano.

"Although volcanic tremors detected in the past days were already very low, with zero record, SO2 emissions remained high and its crater glow was observed at intensity two, or still visible to the naked eye," Laguerta said.

On the other hand, the Albay provincial government ordered the putting up of at least three checkpoints in the entry and exit points at the boundary of Mayon's permanent danger zone in the portions of Daraga and this city.

The Albay LGU warned tour guides against bringing inside the danger zone tourists just to watch the lava that settled in the Padang-Buyuan channel here, which is at the boundary of the six-kilometer danger zone. (PNA)