Monday, February 21, 2011

2,000 People Evacuated as Bulusan Volcano Spews Ash Anew

JUBAN,Sorsogon – Two thousand affected residents around Mt Bulusan were evacuated after the latest ash explosion at around 9:30am here today, a military official said.

LtCol Santiago Enginco, Commanding Officer of the 49th Infantry Battalion based in Juban town said that he immediately deployed 5 military vehicles to assist the evacuation at around 10:00am.

“We have transported about 50 families numbering around 150 people from Puting Sapa village to the designated evacuation center in Cogon Elementary School in Juban town; 300 families in Irosin town,” said Enginco.

Enginco revealed that the volcano spewed ash and thick smoke more or less 2-kilometers above the sky which lasted about twenty minutes. He said that the ash explosion was blown by the wind towards southeastern direction, affecting some areas in the towns of Juban, Irosin and Bulan.

“I received reports from my soldiers in Bulan town that thick smoke and ashfall have blanketed the area at around 10:30am,” said Enginco in a statement.

Soldiers assigned in Masbate City have reported that some parts of the island-province were also affected by ashfall.

Classes in the affected areas (Juban, Irosin and Bulan) are suspended by the DEPED due to the presence of evacuees who took shelter in the elementary school grounds and facilities.

Joena Gupit of DWBS FM in Bulan town said that at least 38 young students suffered suffocation due to the thick ashfall and smoke. She gave the list of reported suffocation incidents in the following areas: 20 in Gallanosa High School in Irosin town, 10 in Bulan National High School and 8 in Alcova Elementary School in the same town.
“We need facemasks especially for the children here in our town. Mayor Helen Rose De Castro has ordered the distribution of facemasks this morning,” said Gupit who called by phone.

“We don’t have electricity here in the area today. There is no phone signal for Globe. I don’t know exactly why these services were hampered since this morning and I’m worried that we can’t drink our contaminated water supply too,” added Gupit.

Mayor Jimmy Fragata of Juban town said that the 49th Infantry Battalion has facilitated the evacuation of the affected residents from Putting Sapa village towards Cogon village as local authorities hoisted Alert Level 1. He said that the volcano has calmed down and the evacuees are ‘on standby’ for possible transport back to their village.

“I have told the evacuees to stay at the evacuation center for a while to prevent respiratory diseases especially for the young children. When the area in the village is clear of ash fall within today, I will coordinate for their return back to their homes,” he said in a phone call to Major Harold Cabunoc, 9ID spokesperson.

In November last year, series of ash explosions had triggered the evacuation of thousands of residents and the series of simulated disaster response operations involving 30 military trucks coming from the 9th Infantry Division.

Major General Ruperto Pabustan, has directed the 903rd Brigade under Colonel Felix Castro and the 49th Infantry Battalion which is under its control, to jumpstart the evacuation missions within the 4km permanent danger zone (PDZ) during Alert level 1.

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