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Easter Sunday alert: Bulusan explodes; Taal acting up, too

April 8, 2007 8:19am
Residents of Casiguran town in Sorsogon province in Bicol got a rude Easter greeting before dawn Sunday from Bulusan Volcano, which exploded and sent ash up to five kilometers high.

Casiguran town Mayor Edwin Hamor, in a separate interview, cited testimonies from residents who said the ash went up as high as five kilometers.

“Masaklap na salubong itong pagbuga ... Almost three weeks na pananahimik, biglang sumabog nang malakas (It’s a cruel Easter greeting. It had kept quiet for three weeks, then exploded just like that)," Hamor said in an interview on dzRH radio.

On the other hand, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) director Renato Solidum Jr. raised the alert against venturing near Taal Volcano in Batangas.

In a separate interview on dzRH radio, Solidum said Taal had been showing “much abnormality" in past days.

“Bumubula at umiinit ang crater. Bawal nang pumasok sa crater area. May nabalitaan may turista pumapasok sana huwag gawin yan (The crater is hot and bubbling. People should not venture near the crater area. We have received reports of tourists venturing near the area, we hope they won’t do that)," he said.

Solidum said the Bulusan explosion occurred at 5:45 a.m., and sent ash up as high as 1.5 kilometers.

“May sumunod mas mataas, may ibang estimate mga four kilometers. Ibang bagsak ng abo sa paligid (Subsequent ash explosions sent ash up as high as four kilometers)," Solidum said in a separate interview on dzRH radio.

Solidum reminded residents within the volcano’s four-kilometer permanent danger zone to move out of the area, but said there is no reason to upgrade Alert Level 1 in the area.

Hamor said he has alerted at least five villages in the town south of the volcano to take precautions, including using towels and face masks to protect themselves from the ash fall.

On the other hand, he said he has ordered operators of a spring in the town to halt operations for at least one day, to ensure visitors’ and residents’ safety.

“Para sa safety ng tao isang araw muna observe natin. Up to 5000 people a day visit it, para sa kaligtasan nila (This is for their safety. Up to 5000 people a day visit it)," he said.

Hamor also said he could only hope the morning rains would help minimize the effects of the ash fall. He added residents are not too alarmed as they had gone through ash fall drills.

“Alam nila ang kanilang gagawin (Our residents know what to do)," he said.

Solidum said the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) issued an advisory on Bulusan as early as Friday, noting that Bulusan had been “abnormal" since March 2006.

He said Bulusan had been acting up in June, October and December 2006, and January 2007.

Casiguran is a fourth-class town in Sorsogon, with a population of 28,057 people in 5,381 households.

Mount Bulusan was last reported to spew thick smoke last March 4, prompting Phivolcs to raise an alert on the volcano, radio DZBB reported.

On January 26, Phivolcs recorded no less than 40 volcanic quakes from Bulusan. - GMANews.TV