MORE than 20,000 people in the Bicol region south of Manila in the Philippines have evacuated, as the lava from the Mayon Volcano continues to flow.
As of January 16, more than 5,000 families or 21,000 individuals have been affected and are now taking shelter in 18 evacuation centres.
International humanitarian organisation CARE has activated its emergency response team with local partners and is preparing to meet the needs of families should the worst eventuate.
CARE Philippines Country Director David Gazashvili said, “CARE is currently monitoring the situation with our local partners on the ground. We are ready to provide relief assistance if needed.”
Mount Mayon is expected to erupt within weeks or even days with Alert Level 3 in effect. Alert level 3 is considered critical, 4 is when eruption is imminent, and 5 is eruption in progress. Mayon is the most active volcano in the Philippines, having erupted more than 50 times in the past 400 years.
Residents have been advised to refrain from entering a seven-kilometre danger zone on the southern flanks of the volcano due to the high risks of falling rocks, landslides and sudden explosions.
Executive Director of CARE’s local partner TABI Maricris Bines said, “Based on our last experience responding to Mount Mayon’s eruption, people had to stay in evacuation centres for more than three months while waiting for their communities to be declared safe to return to.
“Prolonged evacuation usually leads to food supply shortage, illnesses in congested camps, disruption of school classes and income generation, and need for hygiene materials especially for women and children.”
CARE has worked in the Philippines since 1949, providing emergency relief when disaster strikes and helping communities prepare for disasters.
Donations can be made to CARE’s Global Emergency Fund at www.care.org.au/emergency