Lahar monitored in waterways around Kanlaon

Romina Cabrera - The Philippine Star
Lahar monitored in waterways around Kanlaon
An emergency rescue team inspects a river in Barangay Masulog, Canlaon City, Negros Oriental, which has turned gray after floodwater with lahar flowed down from the uplands.

MANILA, Philippines — Lahar flows were monitored in at least four waterways surrounding Kanlaon Volcano in the last couple of days, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

State volcanologists said the thunderstorm generated volcanic sediment flow or lahar on the southern slopes of the volcano.

Three seismic stations of the Kanlaon Volcano Network detected the lahar that began at around 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

Grey cohesive mud, plat debris and gravel were deposited by the lahar in the waterways of Tamburong Creek, Intiguiwan River in Guinpanaan and upstream Baji-Baji Falls, as well as the Padudusan Falls and Binalbagan River.

Affected by lahars were Barangays Biak-na-Bato, Calapnagan and Cabacungan in La Castellana, as well as Masulog in Canlaon City.

The lahars were generally confined in the channels but flows along Tamburong Creek overflowed and dumped deposit on a stretch of the main road in Biak-na-Bato, that rendered it impassable to motorists.

Phivolcs warned that continued rains could continue to generate lahars, as well as muddy stream flow or muddy runoff in rivers draining in the southern Kanlaon edifice.

Phivolcs said 27 volcanic earthquakes were recorded since Wednesday morning. Sulfur dioxide emissions were monitored at a slightly lower 3,464 tons per day but plumes were still voluminous, standing at 1,500 meters tall.

State weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has forecast thunderstorms today that could generate larger volume of lahar.

In an interview with RMN dyHB, Science Secretary Renato Solidum raised the possibility of another eruption of Kanlaon, citing its characteristics. The volcano is currently at Alert Level 2 (increased unrest).

Potable water needed

Residents of local government units affected by the Kanlaon volcano phreatic explosion in central Negros are in dire need of potable water, as rivers, streams and springs are contaminated with lahar.

Biak-na-Bato barangay chairman Joselito Martinez in La Castellana town, Negros Occidental, whose village was hit by lahar flow, said they need more potable water.

Water shortage was also reported in the barangays of La Carlota City in Negros Occidental, and Canlaon City in Negros Oriental.

Canlaon City Mayor Jose Cardenas also confirmed that water in Brgy. Masulog is contaminated with lahar. He added that the city government deployed its water filtration truck in the barangay to address potable water needs of residents.

La Carlota Water District general manager Homer Bermudo said water supply in barangays Ara-al and San Miguel was contaminated with sulfur.

Cadiz City Mayor Salvador Escalante Jr. sent two potable water stations to La Castellana to provide drinking water to the affected residents.

For his part, Senate Majority Leader Francis Tolentino has emphasized the need for the government to ensure clean and potable water supply for residents affected by the recent eruption of Mt. Kanlaon.

“Regarding the water supply in Kanlaon, although there is abundant water, it may be contaminated by ashfall. Coordination with local water districts is necessary,” Tolentino said.

In response, Department of Social Welfare and Development Assistant Secretary Irene Dumlao gave assurance they will review existing agreements with water district utilities to secure clean water supply.

661 families affected

At least 661 families or some 2,400 individuals from various localities and villages are affected by Mount Kanlaon’s unrest in Negros.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) said 330 families or 1,285 persons are taking shelter in eight different evacuation centers. Affected communities include 18 different barangays in Western Visayas and four others in Central Visayas.

The NDRRMC said assistance is being provided for affected families through the DSWD which has so far distributed more than P2.1 million worth of food and other items.

Some 1,501 passengers are also stranded in various locations in Western Visayas and so far, 20 domestic flights and one international flight have been cancelled.

The NDRRMC said at least two cities or municipalities have been placed under state of calamity and are receiving necessary assistance from various government agencies.

No impact on food supply

For his part, Department of Agriculture (DA) Assistant Secretary and spokesman Arnel de Mesa gave assurance that the damage of the Mt. Kanlaon eruption to the agriculture sector was minimal and will not affect the country’s food supply.

De Mesa said that most of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental are known for high value crops. He added that the DA is also validating if there are plantations affected by the lahar flow.

“It (impact of lahar flow) included in the validation. I have no exact data as regions 6 and 7 have yet to provide us the report on the affected areas,” De Mesa said.

According to De Mesa, production in the two provinces is not that big compared to the total output in the entire region.

“We have yet to receive the damage report as the data gathering is ongoing. The priority right now is the safety of the people and the animals within the vicinity of Mount Kanlaon,” De Mesa said.– Gilbert Bayoran, Michael Punongbayan, Delon Porcalla, Bella Cariaso, Jun Elias, Rudy Santos

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