The world’s perfect cone is coming back in the limelight.
Mt. Mayón, the Philippines’ most active volcano, has caused at least eight tremors for the past 24 hours. Already, nearly a thousand families have been evacuated from some of Daragá’s barrios that are very near the volcano.
Daragá, a municipality in Albay province, is the nearest town to Mt. Mayón. The town was founded by Franciscan missionaries in the late 16th century. It was first called Cagsaua. Soon it became a visita to the parish of nearby Camalig town. On 1 February 1814, the volcano’s massive eruption literally buried the whole town in a deadly flow of lava, ash, and volcanic fire. Today, only the church tower of the Iglesia de Cagsaua remains (later on becoming a spectacular tourist attraction); the rest of the church and the town are already several feet under the ground.
Later on, when the town was rebuilt on top of the old one, its name was changed to Daragá. Since then, the volcano has had other strong explosions. But the town no longer experienced the death and destruction that it faced on that deadly 1st day of February.
As early as June of this year, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) has been monitoring Mt. Mayón due to its increased volcanic activity. After spewing a significant amount of ash this past Wednesday, the volcano emitted a crater glow that grew more intense the other night; it was even visible as far as 15 kilometers away!
PHIVOLCS has this to say:
The status of Mayon Volcano remains at Alert Level 2. This means a state of unrest which could lead to more ash explosion or eventually to hazardous magmatic eruption. Thus PHIVOLCS strongly recommends that the 6-km radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) around the volcano and the 7-km Extended Danger Zone (EDZ) on the southeast flank of the volcano are off-limits due to the threat from sudden explosions and rockfalls from the upper slope. Active river channels and those areas perennially identified as lahar prone in the southeast sector should also be avoided especially during bad weather condition or when there is heavy and prolonged rainfall. (PHIVOLCS, 10/11/09)
To make the above statement more simple, it means “you guys living within seven kilometers around the volcano, get the hell out of there as fast as you can!”