BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – The alert status of Mount Kanlaon in Negros Island has been raised from Alert Level 1 to Alert Level 2.
In an advisory on Wednesday, November 15, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said it raised the alert level after it recorded 279 volcanic earthquakes in the past 24 hours.
Alert Level 2 means the volcano is in a moderate level of unrest, Phivolcs said, adding there is probable intrusion of magma at a depth which may or may not lead to a magmatic eruption.
Mount Kanlaon, which straddles the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, is the highest point in the Visayas at 2,465 meters (8,087 feet) above sea level.
Since August 18, the number of volcanic earthquakes detected per day has continued to increase, the agency said.
“There has been no visible degassing or steaming from the active vent this year, although increased unrest could possibly develop into steam-driven or phreatic eruptions at the summit,” the advisory said.
Phivolcs reminded concerned local government units and the public that entry into the 4-kilometer radius Permanent Danger Zone is strictly prohibited due to further possibilities of sudden and hazardous steam-driven or phreatic eruptions.
It reminded civil aviation authorities to advise pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit as ejecta from any sudden phreatic eruption can be hazardous to aircraft.
Benjamin Tanatan, Phivolcs science research analyst based in Canlaon City, Negros Oriental, said they are closely monitoring the active volcano.
He said residents were already informed of the situation, but no evacuation was recommended yet.
The alert level was raised due to the volcanic earthquakes, meaning “there is something happening in the magma chamber in Mount Kanlaon.”
If the volcanic earthquakes increase, “it’s possible it will erupt, it’s possible not,” he added.
Canlaon Mayor Jimmy Clerigo, for his part, said the residents in the danger zone were already told to be prepared in case the situation worsens.
“Everything is in place (for any eventuality). Our evacuation center is also ready,” Clerigo said.
He added their incident command center has been activated, and that they are closely coordinating with Phivolcs.
On May 5, Phivolcs lowered the alert status of Mount Kanlaon from Alert Level 1 to 0. Weeks later, the trails opened following the assessment and clearing operations of the 4 entry points. (READ: After 3 years, Mount Kanlaon reopens trails)
The trails were closed for 3 years after Mount Kanlaon was placed under Alert Level 1.
The Office of Civil Defense in Negros had earlier prepared a comprehensive contingency plan for Mount Kanlaon.
Data showed that not less than 11,000 residents from 5 barangays of Canlaon City may be affected if the situation worsens.
If the volcano’s status will be raised to Alert Level 3, an additional 20,000 individuals from 5 barangays of La Castellana in Negros Occidental will be affected.
Under Alert Level 4, 2,500 more households from 5 barangays in La Carlota City, more than 500 households from two barangays in Bago City, and one barangay in Murcia town will also be affected.
Under Alert Level 5, two barangays from San Carlos City will be affected as well. – Rappler.com