Thousands of villagers evacuated from near the Philippines’ most active volcano headed home yesterday after scientists said the rumbling mountain was showing signs it was calming down.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology early yesterday lowered a five-stage alert over Mayon volcano from level 4 to level 3.
The agency said there was “less probability of a hazardous explosive eruption.”
Most of the 47,000 evacuees whose homes are within an 8km danger zone have been told it is safe to return home, said Cedric Daep, head of the disaster management office of Albay Province, about 340km southeast of Manila.
Only about 5,000 people whose homes are on the southeastern slope of the volcano and in the path of lava flows remained in shelters, he said.
Chief state volcanologist Renato Solidum said scientists were closely monitoring the volcano.
Solidum said they would raise the alert if there is any resurgence of activity.
“At the moment, the activity of the volcano is declining, but the volcanic unrest is still high,” Solidum said.
The institute said in a statement that it noted “a declining trend in Mayon volcano’s activity.”
It cited the absence of ash ejections over the past four days, weak steam emissions, declining amounts of sulfur dioxide gas — an indicator of rising magma.
It also said majority of earthquakes recorded in the past days have been associated with rockfalls, not rising magma.
Albay Province Governor Joey Salceda has ordered that all schools be prepared to reopen for classes next week, Jukes Nunez of the provincial disaster office said.
Many schools had been retasked as shelters since the evacuations began on Dec. 15.
The evacuees heading home also will be given enough food for three days and will continue to receive supplies already set aside for them by the World Food Program, Nunez said.
Daep said the military and police will help transport the villagers back to their homes.
“We are very very happy we are going home to our village,” said 59-year-old seamstress Myrna Avellano.
“We had a sad Christmas and New Year’s Eve at the evacuation center,” she said.
Mayon, known for its perfect cone, has erupted nearly 40 times over 400 years, sending people packing for months at a time. But never has it happened during the Christmas celebration, when Filipinos gather with family and friends for traditional meals and merry-making.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and