THE possibility of lowering the alert level of Mayon Volcano from three to level two within a week's time is high as the restivity of the volcano continues to wane.

“Yes. The possibility of level two is within reach due to lower activity. Also, the increasing sulfur dioxide emissions during the past four days are just parts of the erratic characteristics of the volcano,” said Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) director Renato Solidum.

Alert Level 2 indicates unrest probably of magmatic origin and could eventually lead to eruption.

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The Tuesday bulletin by Phivolcs showed six volcanic earthquakes and 17 rock fall events related to the detachment of lava fragments at the volcano’s upper slopes.

State volcanologists also recorded 672 tons of sulfur dioxide emissions on January 6; 1,077 on January 7; 1,345 on January 8 and 820 during the past 24-hour observation period.

Solidum added that an estimated 30 million cubic meters of lava and other volcanic materials, which oozed out of Mayon's crater, affected three separate gullies in Barangay Buyuan and Mabinit, both in Legazpi City, and towards Barangay Anoling in Camalig town.

The lava materials reached 5.9 kilometers downslope.

It can be remembered that more than 47,000 people were evacuated from danger zones since the Phivolcs raised alert level three last December 14 and alert level four in December 20.

Last January 1, Phivolcs lowered Mayon Volcano's warning level to Alert Level 3, prompting the Albay government to send majority of the evacuees home because an eruption is less imminent.

Phivolcs said that from December 28, a declining trend in the volcano’s activity was noted.

As of January 4, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said only 2,332 from 510 families are in temporary shelters since the province was declared under a state of calamity in December 17.

The NDCC said those in the six-to-seven kilometer danger zones still have to take temporary shelter in evacuation camps.

In a related development, at least P68.57 million was spent for some 47,000 people evacuated from the danger zones around the restive volcano in the past month, the NDCC added.

Situation Report No. 23 as of January 4 said the amount includes assistance from government, local government units and non-government organizations (NGOs).

Of the amount, NDCC said P9.31 million came from the agency. Another P6.45 million came from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD), P14.2 million from the Department of Health (DOH), P36.01 million from local government units, and P2.59 million from NGOs.

Mayon Volcano, said to be the most active among the country’s 22 active volcanoes, has erupted at least 50 times since 1616. Its worst eruption buried Cagsawa town and killed 1,200 people in 1814. An eruption in 1993 killed 77 farmers. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)