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Monday, May 6, 2013

4 foreigners, 1 tour guide killed in Mayon volcano

MANILA - Five people including 4 foreigners were killed by falling rocks after the Mayon Volcano spewed ash Tuesday morning, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said.

There were five (5) killed, composed of 4 foreigners, with nationalities still undetermined as of press time, and a local tour guide known only as “Jerome”, by falling rocks after Mayon Volcano expels ash Tuesday morning, according to Albay Governor Joey Salceda in an interview with ANC.

Salceda, who also heads the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) in Albay, said that the 5 fatalities are part of a group of climbers that included 20 who took the Canaway route via Malilipot town near the volcano. Salceda said that the rescue operations, which is currently underway, prioritize to save those who are injured, then the survivors. Retrieval of the dead bodies will be the last priority.

Two groups climbed the volcano before the ash explosion, separate rescue teams are already dispatched for the three groups. No fatalities have been reported for the other two groups, according to Salceda. The other group consisted of 7 (5 tourists and 3 tour guides) took the Sto. Domingo route. Three were 3 confirmed injured, but no fatalities from this group.

A medical team are already deployed to address the immediate medical attention needed by the injured. Salceda also assures that the survivors have enough food supply while waiting for the rescue teams to come. He said that tour guides, aside from showing the way, also are the ones who bring food for the climbers.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said that there is no threat that Mayon Volcano will erupt soon despite spewing of ash and rocks. Phivolcs said the event was caused by a hydro-thermal explosion referred to as “phreatic”.

“Mayon Volcano (13.2500°N, 123.6833°E) at 8:00:25 AM today produced a small phreatic event that lasted about 73 seconds,” a Phivolcs advisory said.

“The gray to brown clouds reached 500 meters above the summit and drifted west southwest. No volcanic earthquake was detected within the past 24-hour observation period. Seismic and gas emission parameters remain within background levels and indicate no intensification of volcanic activity.”

“With the above observations, PHIVOLCS is maintaining an Alert Level 0 status which means that no eruption is imminent,” the advisory stated.