Catholic church calls for prayer, help as Mt. Kanlaon erupts

CANLAON. Aerial view of the areas affected by the ashfall from the Mt. Kanlaon eruption on Monday, June 3.
CANLAON. Aerial view of the areas affected by the ashfall from the Mt. Kanlaon eruption on Monday, June 3.Office of Civil Defense-6 photo

THE Philippine Catholic church has led the nation in a call for prayer and help as Mount Kanlaon, an active volcano in Negros Island, erupted on June 3, sending a three-mile tall (five-kilometer) hot volcanic ash and gas column into the sky and impacting around 23,622 residents from at least five villages in Canlaon City, Negros Oriental province.

“In this time of trial, I urge everyone to remain calm and vigilant. Let us not succumb to fear, but instead place our trust in God and focus on the safety and well-being of our families and communities,” said Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos City, which covers the territory of Canlaon.

The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology upgraded the alert level from Alert Level 1 (abnormal) to Alert Level 2 (increasing unrest).

“Let us pray for our leaders and responders, that the Holy Spirit may guide their decisions and actions. We pledge our support and assistance in addressing this situation, embodying the Church’s mission to serve those in need and to be a beacon of hope,” the bishop added in a pastoral letter on June 4.

Alminaza said calamities and tragedies “offer us the precious opportunity to practice corporal and spiritual works of mercy, reaching out in solidarity and compassion.”

“This is a time to give witness to God’s love through selfless love to others,” said the bishop, as he appealed for essential items such as face masks, drinking water, emergency food packs, and medicines “that are desperately needed.”

“Your contributions, reflecting the spirit of Chirstian charity, will bring comfort and relief to many,” he said.

Phivocs said the eruption was preceded by a relatively strong volcano-tectonic earthquake, with reports of coarse ashfall and sulfurous odors in communities on the western slopes of the volcano.

The Civil Aviation Authorities reported that more than 60 flights from three domestic airlines were cancelled overnight, affecting over 5,000 passengers.

During an emergency meeting on June 4, Canlaon Mayor Jose Chubasco Cardenas said that they have already ordered mandatory evacuation, suspended classes and work, and closed down the tourism industry in the city.

“Our primary goal here is to ensure the safety of our people, and we will do all that we can to provide them with the necessities,” he said during the meeting.

“Go down to your respective evacuation centers, be vigilant, and prepare important things such as water and food,” added the mayor in his separate Facebook video message to the public.

According to the state-run news agency, no one has been allowed to go near the restive Mount Kanlaon “unless otherwise authorized personnel.”

Army and emergency personnel were also deployed in the affected areas.

At least 40,000 food packs from the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Central Visayas were also distributed to the five affected villages.

The provincial health office urged the residents to wear face masks to avoid respiratory-related illnesses brought by the ashfall particles.

Mount Kanlaon, which last erupted on December 20, 2017, is one of 24 seismically active volcanoes in the country.

Its earliest recorded eruption reportedly dates back in 1866.

The abundance of volcanoes and earthquakes in the Philippines is naturally caused by its location as the country is situated along the Ring of Fire, a path along the Pacific Ocean approximately 40,000 kilometers (24,900 miles), where 75 percent of Earth’s volcanoes—more than 450 volcanoes—are located.

In April 1991, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, which killed 847 people and displaced 10,000 others, was considered the second-largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. (Ronald O. Reyes/SunStar Philippines)


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