Philippines: More than 25,000 people flee amid threat of volcanic eruption
Cologne/Manila. Malteser International is preparing to respond to the needs of people who have fled their homes in fear of a volcanic eruption from Mount Mayon in the province of Albay, Philippines. More than 25,000 people have been evacuated from areas within eight kilometers of Mayon Volcano after a directive from the national civil defence authority. Together with the Philippine Association of the Order of Malta, Malteser International plans to distribute blanket, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, foodstuff and toiletries to 500 families who have been affected and are now taking shelter in evacuation centers.
“The conditions in emergency shelters are difficult. Many people have taken only the bare essentials as they fled from thick clouds surrounding the volcano. It is not yet clear how long they have to stay in these centers. We are in close contact with the Catholic Diocese of Legazpi, which will be responsible for the distribution of aid materials,” said Jan Emmel, Malteser International’s Country Representative in Manila.
Mayon, located about 300 kilometers southeast of the capital city of Manila, is one of the Philippines’ most active volcanoes. In the past days, the mountain has spewed ash and streamed lava down its crater. This morning, the volcano exploded, sending a 10-kilometer-high column of ash and steam into the sky. In response, authorities have raised the alert level to four on a scale of five, meaning an explosive eruption is imminent within hours or days.
“We are braced for the worst case scenario,” Emmel said. “If the volcano erupts, we expect that the people would have lost all their belongings.”
Malteser International has been working in close cooperation with the Philippine Association of the Order of Malta since 2009 with focus on emergency relief for people affected by natural disasters as well as disaster risk reduction. In addition, Malteser International also supports local communities in the areas of water, sanitation and hygiene
Malteser International is the humanitarian relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta. With over 100 projects annually in some 25 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, Malteser International has been standing by those affected by poverty, disease, conflict and disaster, helping them lead a healthy life with dignity – without distinction of religion, race or political persuasion. Christian values and the humanitarian principles build the foundation of its work. For more information: www.malteser-international.org and www.orderofmalta.int