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Bulusan's Ash Fall Triggers Evacuation

JUBAN, Sorsogon Nov 10, 2010- Bulusan's latest eruption and ash fall triggers evacuation by refugees living at the foot of the volcano, a military official said here today.

1st Lieutenant Oliver Dela Cruz, Commanding Officer of the Charlie Company of the 49th Infantry Battalion said that more evacuees from the 4-kilometer permanent danger zone in Sitio Gimaloto (sub-village) in Ingladian village of Casiguran town, trooped to the evacuation center in Escuala village starting at around 5pm yesterday.

"I personally assisted the evacuees in their temporary shelters in the elementary school of Escuala village. As of 9:00pm last night (November 9), 24 families or 116 people were accounted inside the evacuation center set up by the LGU of Casiguran town," said Dela Cruz.

Some food provisions were provided by the local officials led by Casiguran Mayor Ester Hamor to the evacuees, most of whom are small-time farmers in the upland village of Gimaloto.

Seeing that the volcano has calmed down today, all evacuees returned to their villages to attend to their farms and livestock animals. "They have asked the local authorities to allow them to go home in the day and come back to stay in the evacuation center every night," added Dela Cruz.

LtCol Santiago Enginco, Commander of the 49th Infantry Battalion based in Juban town said that his soldiers accompanied the group of Mayor Jimmy Bragata who inspected the 4-kilometer PDZ in the town to look for any remaining people.

"My soldiers found no one in the upland villages. Actually, only a few people are residing near the foot of Mt Bulusan because most of the land there is not arable. For this latest minor eruption yesterday, the ash fall was concentrated in the villages of Irosin town but there were no reported injuries," said Enginco.

Personnel from the Office of the Civil Defense, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office and the DOH are also visiting the villages around the volcano to assess the security situation and coordinate their plan of action with the local government.

Local authorities are concerned about the health hazards brought about by the ash fall which has spread around the villages.

Major General Ruperto Pabustan, Commander of the 9th Infantry Division has directed the 49th IB to support the efforts of the PDRRMO and the OCD in case a major volcanic eruption takes place anytime.

At least 400 soldiers under the 49th Infantry Battalion are placed on alert status to help in the evacuation of people using all the military trucks in the unit. Highly trained Disaster Response Operations (DRO) teams are also on standby for any eventualities.