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Nearly 36,000 flee Mayon Volcano's fury

Published January 23, 2018 8:35am Almost 36,000 people have fled to temporary shelters as of Tuesday morning, following eruptions of the restive Mayon Volcano that rained dark ash over a large part of Albay and lit up the night sky with fiery lava display.




Oart of the 35,895 individuals were returning to evacuation centers days after they were sent home, following a recommendation from authorities that only those living within the six- to seven-kilometer danger zone needed to leave their residences.

The danger zone was extended to eight kilometers on Monday afternoon, after Alert Level 4 was raised over the volcano following magma eruptions that emitted a 10-kilometer high ash cloud.

A report by Saleema Refran on Unang Balita said mandatory evacuation of residents within the eight-kilometer danger zone continues.

Alert Level 4 means a hazardous eruption is possible in a matter of hours or days.

At least 11,000 people sheltered at the Bagumbayan Central School, which sits within the eight-kilometer extended danger zone, returned home last week. They returned to the evacuation center after Monday's eruptions.


Albay Governor Al Bichara said in an interview on Unang Balita that it was the recommendation of the Department of Education to send children back to schools, which serve as evacuation centers, hence the decamping order last week.

Among those who had been evacuated was 84-year-old Soledad Alarzar, who died of old age on January 19. A fellow evacuee said the senior was made nervous and subsequently weakened by the volcano’s activity.

Evacuee Rudy Fernandez also reportedly has difficulty living in a shelter because of his chronic kidney disease and needs to undergo dialysis.

Some residents were displeased with having had to go back and forth from their homes to evacuation centers.

Close to 2 a.m. Tuesday, the restive Mayon again spewed out lava, molten rock, and burning ash, accompanied by thunder-like rumbling. Nearly all sides of its crater were aflame. Ash produced by the lava drifted to the southwest quadrant of the volcano.

Bichara said the national government assistance he had earlier sought has been “settled.” The health, social welfare, and education departments and the local government have downloaded quick response funds to reach out to displaced residents, he said.

Residents are advised to wear face masks, or drape damp cloth over their nose and mouth, and to stay indoors. —Nicole-Anne C. Lagrimas/ALG, GMA News

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