Mayon Volcano - Philippines    December 2009


Authorities want 'hardheaded' Mayon tourists arrested

Article posted December 28, 2009 - 07:57 AM

Irked over the seeming impunity in defying checkpoints and a curfew, the Albay provincial government authorities have ordered a crackdown on tourists venturing into the danger zone of restive Mayon Volcano.

Radio dzBB's Allan Gatus reported Monday that the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council ordered the local military to arrest those caught inside the 6-8 km danger zone.

Military spokesman Capt. Razaleigh Bansawan said one Infantry platoon, or at least 25 personnel, will man added checkpoints around the danger zone.

Roadblocks have been placed on some side roads to deter tourists from sneaking in, he added.

Earlier reports indicated that tourists managed to slip past checkpoints around the danger zone by passing through side roads with the help of local "tourist guides."

Provincial authorities are verifying information that some local officials may even be helping the “underground" tourism industry.

The dzBB report cited information that some tourists could even rent all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) for up to P1,000 an hour to get near the lava front of the volcano.

It said this was despite a 24-hour curfew and a "no human activity" policy at the volcano's danger zone.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said Mayon remained restive, with more than 40 volcanic quakes and several minor volcanic explosions Sunday night.

The lava flow reached up to 5.7 km from the crater and is nearing local coconut plantations, the report said.

Health command post

According to the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), the Joint Health Command Post (JHCP) has stationed a DOH Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit at the Provincial Health Office.

In its 11 p.m. Sunday report, NDCC said the post will oversee and conduct disease surveillance, rapid assessment surveys, report generation and response in evacuation camps.

JHCP has coordinated with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on the establishment of a tent hospital equipped with a mini-laboratory.

Bicol Medical Center will man the mini-laboratory to be set up at San Andres and Sto. Domingo.

Also, the JHCP coordinated with the Water and Sanitation for Health
(WASH) team on the distribution of water kits, chlorine, toilet bowls and additional face masks.

It coordinated as well with medical mission teams on their schedules and places of deployment and augmentation of drugs and medicines.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health augmented drugs, anti-venom, face masks and medicines supplies to affected areas and replenished pre-positioned medicines.

The Center for Health Development (CHD) for Bicol placed all emergency teams on standby for immediate mobilization.

At least 282 patients have been attended to for cough and colds, fever and asthma, local health authorities said, adding that health education is ongoing in some evacuation centers.

As of 11 p.m. Sunday, some 10,032 families or 47,563 people were staying at 29 evacuation centers. - LBG, GMANews.TV

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