Albay mulls declaring state of calamity

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 15 2009 10:34 AM | Updated as of Dec 16 2009 05:01 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Local government officials in Albay will meet Tuesday afternoon to discuss the possibility of placing the entire province under a state of calamity after the state geological agency Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised Mayon volcano's alert level to 3.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, who was supposed to represent the country in the climate change conference in Copenhagen, said he will meet with members of the provincial disaster coordinating council to iron out prepared measures to prevent casualties in case of an eruption.

Salceda said declaring a state of calamity over the whole province will be discussed during the meeting.

The governor said the provincial government has identified potential evacuation centers and will be deploy medical missions in 56 villages around the volcano. He said the medical missions are part of the provincial government's "preemptive health care" program, which aims to prevent a disease outbreak in temporary shelters.

Salceda said the mandatory evacuations of nearly 10,000 families living within the 6-8 kilometer danger zone have started.

He said more than 2,800 people have been evacuated, mainly from the town of Camalig.

The governor added that the provincial government is also seeking assistance from the national government and international groups.

He said they would need more supplies for the residents. He said the evacuees might stay in temporary shelters for more than a month even before the actual eruption.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Monday night raised the volcano's alert level to 3 after recording 6 small ash explosions.

Phivolcs said Alert Level 3 means magma is now near the top of the crater and incandescent materials are now detaching. It said Mayon Volcano is now at a "high level of unrest."