Duterte eyes visit to Mayon evacuees

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 25 2018 09:30 PM

Evacuees queue for free snacks inside a temporary evacuation center in Legazpi City, Albay province on January 25, 2018. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte plans to visit Bicol residents who fled their homes following the eruption of Mayon Volcano.

“May plano po pero siyempre everything is subject to whether or not it is actually possible to go to Bicol by air to begin with,” Roque said in a news conference in New Delhi, India, where the President is attending a summit among Southeast Asian leaders and Indian officials led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I do not know the status of Legazpi Airport now. I'm not at liberty to set the date but there's a tentative date set already for the President to go to Legazpi,” Roque added.

Government authorities who have declared a no-go zone around an erupting volcano said Thursday they will remove all holdouts, by force if necessary, to avoid casualties after tens of thousands of other residents fled to safety.

There have been no deaths in the 10 days since Mount Mayon began belching flaming lava, superheated rocks, and ash this month, causing 75,450 residents to flee surrounding farms and communities, civil defense officials said.

However, they said people have been leaving the shelters in daytime to tend to their farms and livestock inside the danger zone that now extends to nine kilometers from the crater.

The Philippines is part of the Pacific "Ring of Fire" of islands that were formed by volcanic activity.

With 51 eruptions in the past four centuries, Mayon, a near-perfect 2,460-meter (8,070-foot) cone about 330 kilometers southeast of Manila, is the most active of the country's 22 volcanoes.

Authorities have closed airports in the region, while periodic ash showers have made driving on some roads nearly impossible. Local governments have advised residents to wear facial masks and goggles.

Mayon continued hurling red-hot lava, and ash plumes into the sky in the past 24 hours, accompanied by hot ash, lava and rocks rolling down its flanks, the state volcanology office said. - with AFP