Kanlaon Volcano erupts, residents evacuate in fear

The Kanlaon Volcano phreatic erruption.*Ronnie Nicor photo 

A phreatic eruption at Kanlaon Volcano produced a voluminous and incandescent plume that rose to 5,000 meters above the vent at 6:51 p.m. Monday night, June 3.

Residents said they saw fire coming out of the volcano and lighting during the phreatic explosion causing them to evacuate in fear.

Alert Level 2 has been raised over Kanlaon Volcano due to increasing unrest, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.

The unrest is driven by shallow magmatic processes that could eventually lead to further explosive eruptions or even precede hazardous magmatic eruption, Phivolcs said.

Heavy ash fall and stones have hit areas near the volcano causing low visibility and residents in elevated areas close to the volcano were evacuating.

There were numerous evacuees in La Castellana and Canlaon City late Monday night.

Flights to and from the Bacolod Silay Airport were canceled due to the Mt. Kanlaon’s eruption, the Bacolod City public information office announced.

Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson raised a blue alert to preposition all personnel, equipment, and food and non-food items to assist residents.

“Let us continue to pray for everyone’s safety,” he said.

Phivolcs said the steam driven phreatic explosion lasted six minutes based on the seismic record and was preceded by a relatively strong volcano-tectonic earthquake.

Reports of coarse ashfall and heavy sulfurous odors have been reported in communities on western slopes of the volcano.

Heavy rain and lighting also hit the area.

The public is strongly advised to be vigilant and avoid the four kilometer-radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) to minimize risks from sudden explosions, rockfall and landslides, Phivolcs said.

In case of ash fall events that may affect communities, people should cover their nose and mouth with a damp, clean cloth or dust mask, Phivolcs said.

Civil aviation authorities must also advise pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit as ash from any sudden eruption can be hazardous to aircraft.

Mayor Jose Chubasco Cardenas of Canlaon City in Negros Oriental ordered the evacuation of residents in four barangays – Masulog, Pula, Lumapao and Malaiba – following the eruption.

Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes called for prayers for the residents of Canlaon.

Ashfall was expected in the western part of Canlaon City, La Castellana, La Carlota Pontevedra, southeastern part of Bago City, Valladolid , San Enrique, Hinigaran and Binalbagan.

Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez was also closely monitoring the situation Monday night.

The smell of sulfur from the volcano had reached some barangays in Bacolod.*

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