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Phivolcs: Beware of ‘vog’ from Taal Volcano

Residents near the Taal Volcano were urged to remain indoors after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology observed increased activity and sulfur dioxide emission.

“Sulfur dioxide is acidic and if it blends with water vapor, it becomes vog, and this would cause irritation of the eyes, throat and respiratory tract. The severity would depend on the gas concentration and exposure,” said Phivolcs officer-in-charge Teresito Bacolcol.

“Those who will be sensitive to vog would be those with health conditions like asthma, lung disease and heart disease, the elderly, the pregnant, and the children,” he added.

He said residents are advised to stay indoors while making sure to close their doors and windows. Those who have to go out should wear a protective N95 face mask.

In its 5 a.m. bulletin yesterday, Phivolcs said 9,391 tons of sulfur dioxide were released from the volcano, which is higher compared to the 5,831 tons recorded on Thursday, June 1.

A plume reaching up to 1,800 meters tall was also seen drifting northwest from the volcano, state seismologists said.

Alert Level 1 remained over Taal Volcano, signifying low-level unrest.

Meanwhile, Phivolcs-Bicol said a major explosion of the Mayon Volcano is “unlikely.”

“Right now, the scenario of a major eruption is quite remote,” Phivolcs-Bicol’s Dr. Paul Alanis said in a television interview yesterday.

“But of course, there is still the possibility of small eruptions,” he added.

Mayon Volcano is under Alert Level 2, which means there is current unrest driven by shallow magmatic processes that could eventually lead to phreatic eruptions or even precede hazardous magmatic eruptions.

The Office of Civil Defense said they are coordinating with Phivolcs in monitoring Mayon Volcano’s activities.

“We have instructed our regional civil defense offices and regional DRRM councils to ensure that all preparations are in place in case a repeat of the previous volcanic episodes happen. This is standard procedure for the OCD as we continue to ensure that local governments are onboard and ready for any contingency,” Civil Defense Administrator and NDRRMC Executive Director Usec. Ariel Nepomuceno said.

“Though there is no imminent threat of a major eruption coming from Taal and Mayon, as seen in the latest bulletins of Phivolcs, our mandate to proactively prepare for these possible hazards dictates that preparations continue to prevent casualties and other damages.” he added.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on Tuesday issued another notice to airmen (Notam), this time advising them to avoid flying not only near Mayon and Taal volcanoes, but also Kanlaon.

“The CAAP has updated its Notice to Airmen to inform and alert flying aircraft of the current alert levels and associated risks in light of the ongoing unrest at the Taal, Mayon, and Kanlaon volcanoes,” said Eric Apolonio, spokesperson of the agency.

Apolonio said Kanlaon Volcano is currently on Alert Level 1, indicating an abnormal condition.

“Flight operators are strongly advised to avoid flying in close proximity to the volcano’s summit due to the possibility of sudden and hazardous steam-driven or phreatic eruptions,” he said.

“Such eruptions may pose a significant hazard to aircraft from the surface up to 10,000 feet. Additionally, entry within the 4km radius of the permanent danger zone of Kanlaon Volcano has been prohibited,” he added. — Charles Dantes and Joel E. Zurbano

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