[PHOTO AT LEFT -Residents of Irosin, Sorsogon, watch Mount Bulusan spew ash on Tuesday. Phivolcs has raised Alert Level 1 on the volcano since Sunday. PHOTO COURTESY OF CLAIRE GAREZA-RELLAMA]

SORSOGON CITY, NOVEMBER 12, 2010 (MANILA TIMES) At least 80,000 Sorsogon villagers face evacuation BY RHAYDZ BARCIA CORRESPONDENT

JUBAN, Sorsogon: Mount Bulusan erupted three times on Tuesday, endangering tens of thousands of people living at the foot of the volcano.

Crispulo Diolata Jr., the officer in charge of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), told The Manila Times that the third explosion at 3:30 p.m. was the strongest recorded since Saturday when Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon province, south of Manila, began acting up.

Diolata warned that more eruptions might occur.

Bernardo Alejandro, the regional director of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in the Bicol Region, also told The Times that Tuesday’s explosions put at risk at least 80,000 residents calling home slopes of the volcano in the towns of Barcelona, Bulusan, Casiguran, Gubat, Irosin and Juban in Sorsogon.

The OCD in the region asked authorities in the six municipalities—which cover 70 barangays (villages)—to come up with mitigating measures against more eruptions.

Alejandro said that his office has asked the government for help in case Phivolcs recommends evacuation of people from the six towns.

In an explosion that lasted some five minutes on Monday, Mount Bulusan belched out a brownish to light grayish ash cloud that rose about 700 meters above the summit.

Twenty-eight volcanic earthquakes from the eruptions the past few days were recorded.

After the volcano started showing signs of activity on November 6, Phivolcs officials hoisted Alert Level 1 and warned residents living within the 4-kilometer permanent danger zone (PDZ) to keep out of the area.

Diolata said they cannot tell yet if they need to raise the alert level.

Alert Level 3, according to Alejandro, calls for mandatory evacuation of affected villagers.

Col. Santiago Enginco, the commanding officer of the Army’s 49th Infantry Battalion based in Juban, said that that they had drawn up contingency measures in case Mount Bulusan explodes again.

In Manila, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) also warned pilots against flying near the volcano, saying that the ash and volcanic fragments from sudden eruptions may pose hazards to aircraft.

Undersecretary Benito Ramos, the NDRRMC executive director and the OCD concurrent administrator, said that the situation around Mount Bulusan remained at Alert Level 1 and the PDZ, at 4km from the volcano.

“The public is strongly advised not to venture inside [the permanent danger zone] because [such zone] may be affected by sudden steam explosions,” Ramos added. WITH REPORT FROM WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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