Mayon Volcano - Philippines    December 2009

Foreign tourists ignore Mayon warnings

By Rey M. Nasol
Inquirer Southern Luzon
First Posted 16:28:00 12/28/2009

Filed Under: Mayon, Disasters & Accidents, Disasters (general), Tourism, Local authorities
LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines—The Joint Task Force Mayon, composed of the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police, sounded an alarm on the possible breach of the zero-casualty goal of Albay province because of reports of foreigners ignoring the danger warnings on Mayon volcano.

While the province exceeded the target 47,285 residents for evacuation to safer distance from Mayon, some foreign tourists and even some reporters and Manila-based cameramen were giving a new headache to the provincial disaster coordinating council.

“The task force is continuously implementing security measures within the 6-8 km danger zones of Mayon Volcano as part of the ‘no human activity’ policy of the governor,” JTFM spokesman Capt. Razaleigh G. Bansawan said Monday morning.

He said teams of soldiers rushed to the vicinity of barangays Bonga and Mabinit gullies to respond to a reported presence of foreigners, who were guided by local tourist guides in the area, and conducting sightseeing of Mayon's lava dome.

Bansawan said a platoon of soldiers was deployed to the Buyuan-Matanag-Bonga-Mabinit complex of Legazpi City at the southeast section of Mayon where most of the lava deposits are cascading and producing pyroclastic flows.

The soldiers will beef up the present strength of soldiers manning the six established military checkpoints in these areas.

He added that increased security patrolling is continuously imposed during the 24-hour curfew and sealing off entry and exit roads going to the danger zones.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda closely coordinated with the Department of Tourism to seek reminders to its accredited tour guides in adhering to the no-human-activity warning inside the 6 to 8-kilometer danger zones and at its edge.

“They must refrain from bringing their tourists within the restricted areas,” Salceda said.

He said soldiers manning the checkpoints were instructed to implement ‘no reasons and no exemptions’ policy in forcibly evacuating defiant residents within the restricted areas.

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