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PNP on alert as evacuation starts in Bulusan

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The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday ordered the immediate mobilization of police units to assist residents of Sorsogon and nearby areas following Sunday’s phreatic eruption of the Bulusan Volcano.

Over 200 people have fled their homes following the eruption of the Bulusan Volcano, Sorsogon Gov. Francis “Chiz” Escudero said.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is closely monitoring the situation after a phreatic eruption of the Bulusan Volcano which caused ashfalls in Juban and Casiguran in Sorsogon.

CALM AFTER ERUPTION. Smoke rises from Bulusan volcano as seen from the port of Sorsogon City, Sorsogon on Monday. The volcano in Bicol Region spewed a huge, dark cloud on June 5, prompting evacuations from ash-covered towns while authorities warned of possible further eruptions. AFP

Maj. Gen. Valeriano de Leon, PNP director for operations, said these units were also ordered to secure business establishments against potential looters.

“PNP OIC (officer-in-charge) Lt. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr. instructed RD (Regional Director) PRO5 (Police Regional Office 5) to coordinate with the concerned local government units to determine the assistance that our local police units could extend to ensure the safety of the affected local residents,” De Leon said.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised Alert Level 1 around the Bulusan Volcano after it spewed a thick plume mid-morning Sunday, causing ashfalls in some areas in Sorsogon and Albay.

He added that there were still some families living in danger zones and the priority now is to evacuate these people as soon as possible.

De Leon also said unit commanders in Albay and Sorsogon were instructed put on standby available vehicles and means of transportation assets for the evacuation operations.

The PRO-5 was also tasked to constantly communicate with local government units and local offices of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in order to determine the assistance that local residents need, including food, medicine, and other basic needs.

The NDRRMC tasked the Bicol Regional DRRMC to ban entry into the four-kilometer radius permanent danger zone (PDZ) and exercise vigilance in the two-kilometer extended danger zone (EDZ) due to the increased possibilities of sudden and hazardous phreatic eruptions; as well as ensure compliance of the local government units, especially the high-risk barangays, on the dissemination of advisories from the authorities regarding the management of ashfall and other volcanic hazards.

The NDRRMC also directed the Bicol RDRRMC to preposition teams and resources to support the affected LGUs should the need arise and prepare for possible alert escalation.

Meanwhile, the OCD, NDRRMC, Bicol RDRRMC, and the Phivolcs continue to coordinate with the local government units and disaster managers for any developments.

Advisories, emergency text alerts and local announcements are being released continuously to remind the public of the preparedness and response measures.

The Philvolcs on Monday recorded 29 volcanic earthquakes and one phreatic eruption that lasted 17 minutes.

The agency warned of possible hazards that can occur, such as sudden steam-driven or phreatic eruptions.

The volcano emitted a plume 150 meters high with its edifice being inflated.

Phivolcs banned people’s entry into the four-kilometer radius permanent danger zone and entry without vigilance into the extended danger zone.

It also discouraged any aircraft to fly close to the volcano.

Escudero told ANC that most of the evacuees were from Barangay Puting Sapa in Juban town. They have since been relocated to another village where they will be staying for the next few days.

He noted that residents in other areas hit by the ashfall, including Irosin town, did not have to be evacuated.

The governor said that they will be sending the evacuees home if Bulusan does not erupt within the next 2 to 3 days.

This decision, he said, is based on their track record and experience, particularly the previous eruption of the volcano in 2017.

“Our fellowmen also want to go home so they can start repairing their homes,” Escudero said.

“We are also having face-to-face classes here so the children are affected.” he added.

No one was reported killed or injured due to the eruption.

The NDRRMC gave assurance that LGUs have enough supplies to sustain their relief operations, but added that the national government and regional disaster council are also ready to provide affected residents food, drinking water and hygiene items.

Residents were advised to stay indoors and wear face masks to avoid inhaling fine ash spewed by the volcano.

Meanwhile, relief goods from the Office of the Vice President Leni Robredo are on their way to Sorsogon.

Robredo said in an Instagram post that the first batch of goods, coursed through her office’s flagship program Angat Buhay, were loaded into a truck Sunday evening.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III ordered the immediate distribution of prepositioned supplies and face masks to affected residents after the phreatic eruption of Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon.

“I instructed that all the prepositioned supplies must already be distributed to the affected families and especially those in the evacuation centers,” Duque said during an interview on ANC.

“And I also already instructed the distribution of N-95 masks and N-88 surgical masks to protect our people from the ashfall and its impact on [the] eyes,” Duque also said.

Duque said the Department of Health (DOH) has distributed hygiene kits, water, and water containers.

Duque likewise urged the public in the affected areas to refrain from wearing contact lenses, avoid going out of their residences, and ensure that their windows are covered with items that would filter the ashfall such as wet blankets.

Duque said local frontliners are also monitoring the situation in the evacuation centers.

PHIVOLCS Director and Science Undersecretary Renato Solidum Jr. said the danger zone in Bulusan has been extended to two more kilometers

In another development, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines advised all pilots to avoid flying near Mount Bulusan due to recent ash emission and phreatic eruption.

CAAP chief information officer and spokesperson Eric Apolonio said the agency updated its notice to airmen to reflect the current situation in the vicinity of Mount Bulusan.

Apolonio also reported that the airports under the supervision of CAAP in Bicol Region encountered no damages in its facilities following the ash emission and phreatic eruption of Mount Bulusan.

CAAP operates seven airports in the region, namely: Bulan Airport, Sorsogon Airport, Daet Airport, Masbate Airport, Naga Airport, Virac Airport, and Bicol International Airport.


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