Volcano prompts evacuations in the Philippines

By December 16, 2009

Philippines (MNN) — The most active volcano in the
Philippines is threatening a major eruption, prompting a mass evacuation.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology recommended the
evacuation of residents living within the six-kilometer danger zone around the
volcano. According to government
reports, that amounted to nearly 50,000 residents who were moved to safety.

The Albay governor also called for a "state of imminent
disaster," in preparation. One scientist was quoted  as saying, "A major eruption of Mayon might
occur within the period of two weeks if ever the abnormalities would continue
and further intensify."

In recent years, the volcanic activity from Mt. Mayon was
violent enough to engender respect. From
Feb. 2 to April 4, 1993, pyroclastic and lava flow killed 77 and injured five.

Mayon erupted again from July to October 2006. In August 2006, government
ordered the evacuation of people living near the volcano.

Later that same year, on Nov. 30, Typhoon Durian caused mudslides of volcanic
ash and boulders from the slopes of Mayon Volcano, burying at least 1,000. The threat posed by the volcano is not taken
lightly.

The Jacqueline Koster with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee says they're standing
by. "We've been working with the
churches there to develop sort of a disaster response capacity within the
churches. In addition to that response capacity, we have an ongoing project, at
the moment, in response to the typhoon. We have an international relief manager
who is still there."

However, Koster says they haven't actually launched a
response because "the government seems to have a very good handle on the
evacuation plans. It's just a matter of waiting to see what, if any, damage is
caused by an eruption." 

A case in point, during the emergency meeting of the
Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council and the Regional Disaster Coordinating
Council Tuesday, all municipal or city and village disaster coordinating
councils around Mayon have been ordered to immediately convene and activate
emergency operation and execute evacuation procedures.

CRWRC teams have experience dealing with
disaster, and their work often opens doors
for the Gospel. "I think it's just that immediate comfort that comes from
having someone able to sit and share the experience and let people express the
trauma that they've experienced," says Koster. "I think
that is the most powerful thing for many people–that compassion that they see
in the Christian response."

Pray for the CRWRC team as they keep an eye on the
situation. We'll keep you posted on the
developments.

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