Phivolcs raises Mayon Volcano’s alert to Level 2

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 5) — Mayon Volcano is now at Alert Level 2, which indicates low to moderate occurrence of earthquakes, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) announced Monday.

The alert level was raised due to an increase in rockfall from the volcano’s summit lava dome, denoting unrest.

In March, Phivolcs lowered Mayon Volcano’s alert status to level 1 as it showed a “steady decline” of volcanic quakes. However, the alert status was raised again as recent rockfall events may lead to possible dome activity such as phreatic eruptions or precede hazardous magmatic eruption, Phivolcs said.

“Kasama diyan low-frequency volcanic earthquakes, volcano tremor. Then, makikita natin ang earthquakes na nagsasaad na nagbibitak ng bato ang panibagong magma,” Antonia Bornas, chief of Phivolcs Volcanic Monitoring and Eruption Prediction Division, told CNN Philippines Balitaan.

[Translation: This includes low-frequency volcanic earthquakes and volcano tremors. Then, we can see earthquakes indicating new magma breaking through rocks.]

She clarified that the recent rockfall events are a signal indicating new magma forming inside the volcano, which pushes existing ones out of the dome.

“Pwede dahil sa mayroon itong pressure na nasa loob ng bulkan dahil mayroong steam na namumo. Pwede rin na sa ilalim ng bulkan, may tumutulak na magma,"she said.

[Translation: This can be caused by pressure inside the volcano due to steam that is forming. It can also be caused by magma inside the volcano.]

According to its latest bulletin, the frequency of rockfall increased from an average of five events per day to 49 events per day.

The public was also urged to cover their nose with a damp, clean cloth or dust mask in case of ash fall.

“The public is strongly advised to be vigilant and desist from entering the six (6) kilometer-radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) to minimize risks from sudden explosions, rockfall and landslides,” Phivolcs said.

“Civil aviation authorities must also advise pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit as ash from any sudden eruption can be hazardous to aircraft,” it added.

In a separate statement, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said its regional offices in Bicol were ordered to prepare family food packs amid Mayon’s volcanic activities.

“The concerned regional field offices have been directed to stockpile on their Family Food Packs and ensure that they have sufficient standby funds as part of the preparation,” DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian said Monday.

The regional offices were also tasked to record the number of affected families and municipalities and the duration of the volcanic unrest.

“The historic data will be very helpful in determining the approximate number of FFPs that needs to be stockpiled,” Gatchalian said.