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Pinatubo & Lahar

News Clippings

Updating this section was discontinued in 1997 due to the amount of time it consumed and the lack of volcanic/lahar activity.  When significant news happens now I scan it and send it out to our mailing list.

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Today 20 Oct 1997

Lethal lahar still a threat despite decline of source

ANGELES CITY—Despite a decline in the lahar flows experienced for the past five years in lahar-endangered areas-around the Pinatubo volcano, the potential occurrence of lethal lahar flows still remains, a member of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Lahar Study Group said. Jesse Umbal, a geologist and member of the Phivolcs Lahar Study Group, said that with the gradual depletion of source materials—volcanic debris still embedded at the foothills of the volcano—the frequency of lahar flows would diminish in the future. "But the potential occurrence of lethal lahar flows still remains, particularly in the event of extreme rainfall," The study was one of the subjects that were discussed during the International Symposium on Rehabilitation and Improvement of Productivity in Pinatubo Lahar and Ashfall Areas held over the weekend at the Maharaja Hotel here. "After five years, there still remains a significant quantity of credible pyroclastic material on the slopes of Pinatubo. Hence, potentially destructive lahar flows are likely to persist in the future, although the intensity and frequency [will] diminish," Umbal added. He said the availability of source materials exerts the most fundamental influence on how long lahar flows will persist. 'The more source material there is available, the longer the lahar crisis will remain," he stressed. Umbal also identified conditions, which he called geomorphic accidents, that could alter the expected trend in the decline of lahar activity at Mount Pinatubo. He said these processes include secondary explosions, which have also considerably diminished as the sediment cooled down over the years since 1991, when Pinatubo erupted, pyroclastic flows; extreme rainfall; typhoons; renewed volcanic eruptions and lake breakout floods. "Lake breakout floods and their associated hazards have been presented because of their potential long-term intact even after lahar activity ceased altogether," Umbal stressed. Umbal said that only a fraction of the primary pyroclastic flow deposits would be eroded as he suggested steps to diminish the availability of source materials such as revegetation of the 1991 pyroclastic deposits that would further minimize sediment erosion by increasing raindrop interception and infiltration capacity. The geologist also encouraged the drawing up and use of lahar hazard maps and scenarios that present severe but reasonable predictions of areas that may be affected for planning purposes. 'These lahar hazard maps graphically present vulnerable areas since it is essential for disaster-response planners to have an idea of the possible routes and areas that can be affected by a particular lahar hazard," Umbal explained. In his study, Umbal identified two major Central Luzon river channels still active as lahar-draining routes: the Pasig-Potrero River in Pampanga and the Marclla-Santo Tomas river channel in Zambales. Of the two river channels, lahar flows in the Pasig-Potrero make it the more active, threatening at least eight towns, including densely populated San Fernando, the provincial capital of Pampanga. In the past, flows along the river almost totally buried the entire town of Bacolor, of the town's 21 barangays, only three were spared. Umbal said that unless existing and future antilahar engineering structures are adequately sited, designed and reinforced, lahar-affected areas would Continue to expand, since earlier lahar-mitigating structures are either inadequately designed or are already filled up. "If we are to successfully address the ongoing lahar crisis in the Mount Pinatubo area, it is vital that we draw upon and learn from the numerous scientific and engineering observations gathered during past lahar seasons," Umbal stressed.

Sun Star 27 Aug 1997

National government releases P59 minion for flood-ravaged Central Luzon as public works engineers rush repairs of megadike.

CAMP OLIVAS,Pampanga—The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDGC) has released at least P59 million for flood victims and rehabilitation of damaged dikes and bridges in Central Luzon. Chief Supt. Edgar Aglipay, Central Luzon Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) chairman said that P50 million has been released to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and P2 million each to the Department of Health (DoH) and RDCC. Aglipay said that with the improved weather condition, government engineers started last Monday the restoration of breached dikes in Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales. DPWH authorities have reassured Pampanga residents that the megadike along both sides of the treacherous Pasig-Potrero river is intact to withstand imminent lahar flows and rampaging floodwaters. Government workers are building spur dikes along the inner sides of the megadike to save it from being directly affected by lahar flows and floodwaters. The spur dikes are designed to divert the flow of lahar and flood-waters away from the walls of the megadike. Aglipay said that RDCC has given the mayors of 70 flood-affected towns and four cities in Central Luzon the discretion to undertake and supervise rescue, relief and evacuation operations in their respective areas. Aglipay said that although the RDCC has ordered residents in "high risk" barangays to evacuate to safer places, their mayors shall still access the prevailing situations in their localities and decide if there is really a need to evacuate. RDCC authorities have alerted three helicopters, at least 20 six-by-six trucks, rubber boats and amphibian trucks for use in case emergencies in the legion, Aglipay said RDCC scientists also have been conducting a round-the-clock watch on the Mapanuepe lake formation on the slopes of Mt. Pinatubo in barangay Lawin, San Marcelino, Zambales and the pond formation on the southeastern slope of the volcano near the upper mouths of the Pasig-Potrero river in Pampanga and the Sacobia river in Tarlac. The Mapanuepe lake formation has been filled up with watery lahar, forcing government engineers to create an outlet for the impounded rain waters towards the China sea through the Sto. Tomas river.

Today 7 Aug 1997

Huling sends tons of lahar to river


SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga—Typhoon Huling sent tons of lahar to the Pasig-Potrero River, rendering several roads and bridges impassable as continuous rains have reportedly inundated a number of villages here, officials reported yesterday. The Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) in Camp Olivas reported that two to three feet of rampaging lahar from Mount Pinatubo was spotted by policemen manning the lahar watch point along the river early yesterday morning. Meanwhile, heavy rains caused four secondary explosions at the Sacobia pyroclastic flow deposit at the Sacobia River in Bamban, Tarlac yesterday. The explosions unleashed a one-kilometer high mushroom like ash toward the direction of Angeles City and the Clark Special Economic Zone. The regional office of the public works department here reported that several bridges and roads were closed to vehicles due to lahar flow and heavy rains since Sunday evening. Edillo Montemayor, public works regional director, said the north-road section of the Mabalacat-Bamban Road was closed to traffic due to an eroded approach of the bailey bridge in the Bamban side. Heavy rains also caused the closure of the Magalang-Concepcion Road; the Mexico spillway along the Gapan-San Fernando-Olongapo and the San Femando-Lubao roads in Bacolor. The RDCC reported that three sitios in Cabangan, Zambales, were flooded, affecting some 3,242 families, while 25 families in Ague, San Isidro, 86 families in Mapurac, 80 families in Reserbe were affected after the Apo-Apo Bridge in Cabangan, Zambales, sustained a 30-meter crack. Rising floodwaters in San Antonio, Zambales, also forced about 30 families to flee to higher grounds after the Sabangan Bridge was eroded. The Maglimsan Bridge at the Gapan-Olongapo Highway leading to the western part of the region was also reduced to one-way traffic after strong currents scoured portions of the span. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology warned that an estimated 150 million cubic meters of volcanic debris are expected to be drained into major river channels in the region this rainy season, with the concentration at the Pasig-Potrero River in Porac town. The RDCC reported that at least four feet of lahar flow was recorded by policemen at the Pasig-Potrero River starting Tuesday night The lahar flow, however, did not cause much damage to infrastructure projects, notably the P1.4-billion FVR megadike in Bacolor.

Today 21 Jun 1997

Secondary explosions feared


CLARK FIELD, Pampanga— Secondary explosions may become a common occurrence during this year's rainy season but will decrease in number significantly, government volcanologists said yesterday. Jaime Sincioco, resident volcanologist of the Pinatubo Volcano Observatory (PVO) here, said secondary explosions may occur at the Sacobia pyroclastic fan deposit on the upper reaches of the Sacobia River in Bamban, Tarlac. Secondary explosions usually occur when rainwater comes in contact with the still hot volcanic sediment nestled in the slopes of Mount Pinatubo, which was spewed by the volcano when it emptied in 1991. Tons of the material are thrust several kilometers up in the air and usually fall as fine ash in surrounding areas and communities, depending on the direction of the wind. Sincioco said that during the rains induced by typhoon Bening early this year, a secondary explosion was recorded by the PVO; the explosion caused fine ash to rain on nearby Angeles City and the dark Special Economic Zone. The explosion was the first to be recorded for the year. Before then, the number of explosions had significantly decreased, and tons of the volcanic material had been washed down the major river channels of the region. From as many as 141 secondary explosions in 1994, only 15 occurred in 1996. The most devastating of these secondary explosions occurred in 1994. It almost totally buried the towns of Bacolor and Porac, which lie in the direct path of the now-widened Pasig-Potrero River. A total of 421 explosions have been recorded since 1992. Other river channels with active secondary explosions include the Bucao and Santo Tomas-Marella river systems in Zambales on the other side of the volcano. Sincioco also said that seismic activities had also been on the decline, as only two such seismic activities were recorded since last year, according to a report by observatory. "This means the seismic activities at the volcano remain normal, and we do not expect an eruption in the near future," Sincioco said. He, however, cautioned trekkers and adventurers who have found a challenge in scaling the volcano not to venture into the IO-kilometer-radius danger zone surrounding it, as rains could easily dislodge the sediments embedded in the slopes of the mountain.

Sun Star Clark May 31, 1997

Angeles City safe from lahar flows

Phivolcs assures Pamintuan city safe from lahar but not from floodings and erosion of Abacan

ANGELES CITY- The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs.) assured yesterday that all the villages in the city are safe from lahar. Philvocs director Raymundo Punongbayan gave the assurance in response to a letter sent by Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan a week before typhoon "Bining" hit the country. Pamintuan had asked the Phivolcs chief for a status report on the city regarding lahar flows from Mt. Pinatubo's slopes. This city's 14 barangays were classified as "high-risk" from lahar flows last year. Punongbayan, however, warned that the distant reaches of lahar silted Abacan river are pr6ne to recurrent flooding with sedimentation mainly confined to river channels. He assured that lahar intrusion from the Pasig Potrero river towards Taug river and to Abacan. river "is still very low due in part to the transition of lahar flows to very dilute/watery flows as observed from July 1995 to present." The Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) in Central Luzon monitored three-fret high lahar flows at the Pasig-Potrero river and two-feet high lahar along Sacobia river at the height of typhoon Bining last Sunday and Monday. The RDCC said the flows were 80 percent water and 20 percent lahar. Despite the assurance, Pamintuan ordered the Angeles City Disaster Coordinating Council (ACDCC) to keep a tight watch over Delta 5 at the slope of Mt. Pinatubo where a land mass serves as the city's natural barrier against lahar. Pamintuan also stationed a 24-hour monitoring team there after weather officials reported spotting yesterday an active low pressure are west of Iba, Zambales. City officials also urged residents living near the Abacan river to be on alert. The Abacan bridge is the main artery connecting Angeles City, Mabalacat and the Clark Special Economic Zone where some 177 industrial and commercial firms are located. Meanwhile, Philvocs reiterated its warning to residents living near the P1.4 million FVR Megadike not to be complacent, saying that the structure had not been tested against lahar. Phitvocs predicted that at least 40 to 50 million cubic meters of volcanic sediments are expected to flow down from the slopes of Mt. Pinatubo this rainy season

Today May 1997

Warning: Megadike can’t stop lahar flows

Phivoics scientist says megadike not tested by lahar; urges residents in lahar-threatened towns not to be complacent

CLARK FIELD- "Don't put your trust in the megadike." This, in effect, was the warning aired by officials of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivoics) yesterday to Bacolor residents living near the P1.4 billion megadike. Phivoics scientist Perla de lo Reyes said the controversial antilahar structure has not been tested against the force of lahar flows, confirming a statement made recently by the National Confederation of Constructors Associations of the Philippines NACCAP that the megadike is not lahar proof. "Even a good dike can always fail and Bacolor folks should not pin their hopes and be complacent during the onset of the rainy season," de los Reyes explained. She cited that the 59-kilometer long dike along the Pasig-Potrero river has yet to pass its "real test" since only minimal rainfall triggered lahar flows last year. In its statement last week, NACCAP President Wilfrido Castor denied boasts made by Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Sec. Gregono Vigilar that the megadike had been tested against lahar flows. In August last year, the 67-meter portion of the transverse dam in Barangay Sta. Barbara, Bacolor collapsed due to the accumulated water and lahar flows. The incident caused panic among residents living near the dike and sparked an official investigation of the Mount Pinatubo Rehabilitation-Project Management Office (MPR-PMO), the agency tasked to oversee the project. The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) has reported that the so-called La Nina phenomenon would prevail this year. Contrary to the dry spell of the El Nino phenomenon the country experienced last year, the La Nina phenomenon is characterized by heavier rainfall. Meanwhile, resident scientist Jaime Sincioco of the Pinatubo Volcano Observatory station here said any direct obstruction to major lahar paths would lead to upstream accumulation of volcanic debris that could divert lahar lows. Pampanga based private construction firms also issued similar statements warning residents living near the megadike against complacency because of the public works department's failure to test the dike. However, Sincioco said that Philvocs is "keeping an open mind" about the transverse dike which the DPWH had insisted on building. Government engineers and residents of nearby Guagua town have been opposing the construction of the transverse dike. Lately, Philvocs expressed its support to the DPWH proposal to lower the transverse dike's spiliways to allow watery lahar to flow downstream instead of it overflowing the dike and affecting nearby low-lying barangays. AT LAST, someone has recognized that these things may not work if it rains!

Manila Bulletin May 19, 1997

Gov’t engineers check megadike’s strength

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga - Govemment engineers have assured the people that the strength of the P1.4-million megadike around the treacherous Pasig Potrero River here, will protect lahar and flood periled villages in the province. Engineer Severino Enriquez, consultant to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) on anti-lahar projects, said the megadike was designed and constructed to withstand lahar flows and floods this rainy season. Enriquez, retired assistant director of the Mt. Pinatubo Rehabilitation Project Management Office (MPR-PMO), issued last Tuesday an assurance on safety against calamity of "high- risk" villages in San Fernando, Sto. Tomas, Minalin, and Bacolor. He said there would be no need for residents in "high risk" barangays to evacuate en masse even in onset of continuous heavy rains, saying that the megadike is capable of protecting them. Authorities from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Philvocs), however, issued a warning against lahar and urged flood-endangered residents near the megadike to prepare to evacuate to safer places in case of continuous heavy rains. They warned that threatened residents should not be complacent and rely too much on the megadike 'because it has not been tested yet against rampaging lahar’.

Today May 3

Megadike strength doubted

CLARK FIELD --- "Don't put your trust in the megadike. "This was the warning aired by officials of the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on residents living near the P1.4 billion megadike. Phivoics scientist Perla de los Reyes said the controversial antilahar structure has not been tested, confirming a statement made recently by the National Confederation of Constructors' Associations of the Philippines (Naccap), that the megadike is not lahar-proof. 'Even a good dike can always fail and Bacolor residents should not pin their hopes and be complacent at the onset of the rainy season," de los Reyes said. She said that the 59- kilometer long dike along the Pasig-Potrero River has yet to pass its "real test" since there was only minimal rainfall that triggered lahar last year. In a statement, Naccap President Wilfrido Castor denied the boasts made by Public Works Secretary Gregorio Vigilar that the megadike had been tested against lahar flows. In August last year, a 67-meter portion of the transverse dam in Barangay Santa Barbara, Bacolor, collapsed owing to the accumulated water and lahar flows. This caused panic among residents living near the dike and sparked an investigation by the Mount Pinatubo Rehabilitation-Project Management Office, the agency tasked to oversee the project. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration (Pagasa) has predicted that the so-called La Nina phenomenon will prevail this year. Contrary to the dry spell of the El Nino phenomenon that the country experienced last year, La Nina is characterized by heavier rainfall.

Today 30 April 1997

2 Pampanga firms to dump waste water in lahar areas

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga - Officials of the two big industrial firms operating in nearby Apalit town have agreed to dump their waste water in the lahar areas in Bacolor and Porac towns to solve the pollution problem that has been causing problems downstream of the Pampanga River system. This was announced by Pampanga Gov. Manuel Lapid yesterday who said that the firms have agreed to transport and discharge their industrial effluents at the deert like lahar lands which could reportedly enrich the soil and induce the growth of plant life. Lapid told TODAY that the agreement, to he signed by officials of the Central Fermentation Industrial Corp. and Far East Alcohol Corp., local government officials of Pampanga and Bulacan and environment Regional Director Ricanao Seinno, is expected to end the 2O-year-old problem that has hounded fisher folk entirely dependent on the said river system. Since the establishment and start of operations of the two industrial plants in Apalit town, fisher folk and fish-pond operators along the river system in Bulacan and Pampanga have experienced the slow death of the multibillion-peso prawn and fishing industry because of the alleged discharging of toxic industrial effluents in the waterways. Lapid said the agreement will outline the implementation guidelines with regard to the dumping of the industrial by products either in the towns of Porac or Bacolor. He stressed that the waste material may even induce the growth of vegetation in areas severely affected and ravaged by lahar flows following the eruption of Mount Pinatuho six years ago. The actor-turned-governor also said that some of the waste water can also be dumped at the Pl.4 billion megadike in lahar-ravaged Bacolor to hasten the curing period of the mammoth structure built to prevent the intrusion of tons of volcanic debris in several low lying areas surrounding the Pasig-Potrero River. Serrano agreed with Lapid's suggestion, saying that the waste and cooling water from the operations of the firms could enrich the soil, but is dangerous to marine life. What a great idea!! The Americans are constantly under fire for supposedly leaving toxic waste on Clark, but these firms can dump theirs near Bacalor!

Today April 14, 1997

'In spite of changes in design, budget of megadike is intact’

SAN FERNANDO -- Another P1.3 billion is needed this year for the construction and concreting of the additional 54 kilometer portion of the yet-to-be completed 66 kilometer megadike in Pampanga, a government consultant yesterday said. Severino Enriquez, former assistant director and now consultant of the Mount Pinatubo Rehabilitation-Project Management Office (MPRPMO), said that the initial P2.7-billion cost estimate for the completion of the megadike, amid changes in design plans for some of the structure's portions, has not changed. Public Works Secretary Gregorio Vigilar has said that the additional P1.3 billion may no longer be necessary due to diminishing lahar flows. The government has spent P1.4 billion for the construction of the megadike's 24-kilometer-long initial phase. Enriquez said technical experts from the University of the Philippines are still preparing new designs for vital portions of the megadike, particularly the check gates for lahar and water. The megadike is designed to ring some 100 kilometers of residential and agricultural lands near the Pasig-Potrero River in Porac, Angeles City, San Fernando, Santa Rita, Bacolor and Guagua and convert them into a huge lahar catch basin. When completed, the megadike is intended to save 10 Pampanga towns from volcanic sediments flowing from the Pasig-Potrero. Budget Secretary Salvador Enriquez Jr., Mount Pinatuho Commission chairman, said earlier that the MPR-PMO is yet to submit a comprehensive technical study to justify additional funding for the megadike project. The National Confederation of Constructors Association of the Philippines (Naccap) has assailed the MPR-PMO for its failure to settle millions of pesos of unpaid accounts with contractors who have completed their contract packages for the initial phase of the megadike. Willy Castor, Naccap president, told reporters that federation memb-contractors have asked Naccap to file criminal and administrative charges against several MPR-PMO officials for their failure to pay them for their accomplished works. Vigilar has sought the assistance of Lapid to ensure that repair work would not he halted by those opposed to the dike's rehabilitation. He said work on the Pasig-Potrero are "critical activities" that need to be completed before the onset of the rainy season.

Sun Star April 9, 1997

San Fernando dike eroding

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga- The partially finished six-meter high tail section of the Pampanga megadike has started showing signs of massive erosion and could collapse in the event of continuous heavy rains unless its banks are armored. This was reported yesterday ~ the monitoring team of the Save San Fernando Foundation (SSFF) during the meeting of government engineers and concerned civic leaders at the Car world conference room here. Assistant Secretary Manuel Bonoan of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), who is executive director of the Mt. Pinatubo Rehabilitation Project Management Office (MPR-PMO), said that only PlO million of the P50 million calamity fund ordered released last year by President Ramos for the tail dike has so far been released. Bonoan said that the Pl0 million could be spent while awaiting the release of the P40 million. The 2.9-kilometer tail dike from Barangay Magliman to San Nicolas made of lahar materials was initiated by SSFF, the San Fernando municipal government and Save Pampanga Movement (SPM) in April, 1996. Christened St. Ferdinand dike, the structure was designed to protect barangays Poblacion, Magliman, Dolores, Sto. Niflo, San Nicolas, del Pilar, San Jose, Sta. Lucia and San Juan. About a kilometer section of the tail dike was constructed also by civic leaders in the Sto. Tomas and Minalin areas; Government engineers recently programmed the armoring and upgrading of the tail dike measuring ab6ut eight kilometers starting from barangay Magliman in San Fernando to San Lorenzo in Minalin. The armoring and upgrading project could not be bidded out yet if the full P59 million calamity fund is not released, according to Engr. Rafael C. Yabut, chief of the First Engineering District of the DPWH which. has taken over the tail dike project. Construction of all anti-lahar structures used to be the responsibility of the MPR-PMO. The possible collapse of the lahar-made tail dike could be caused by rampaging floods and watery lahar that may cascade from the upper northern section of the Pasig-Potrero river, according to government engineers. Bonoan and Yabut appealed to local officials and concerned civic leaders headed by Levy P. Laus to lobby the early release of the additional P40 million necessary for the completion of the tail dike. Yabut also said that the construction of the 16-kilometer megadike extension between Angeles City and Porac town would be bidded on April 15. He said that its construction has been ordered rushed by President Ramos to ensure the protection from lahar flows of several barangays in Porac, Angeles City and northern San Fernando.

Sun Star April 7, 1997

Dike repair finished this month

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga- Repair of the megadike's transverse section in Bacolor' town 'which was, breached by rampaging watery lahar eight months ago will be completed by the end of this month. Engr. Severino Enriquez; consultant on antilahar rehabilitation projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said here on Friday that three private contractors are rushing the repair of the 68-meter portion of the' transverse dike which was breached last Aug. 3; Enriquez, former deputy director of the DPWH's Mt. Pinatubo Rehabilitation-Project Management Office (MPR-PMO), declined to explain the circumstances behind the delay of the repair work. The MPR-PMO which is in charge of different anti-lahar projects in Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales is also rushing the construction of dikes and the desilting of major river channels in the three lahar-affected provinces, according to Enriquez. Repair works on the breached transverse dike were resumed recently after they were suspended last March 11 when a group of policemen and civilians led by Guagua Mayor Manuel Santiagd arrived in 'the construction site and confiscated the keys of some of the heavy equipment used in the repair work. Chief Supt. Edgar Aglipay chairman of the Central Luzon Regional Disaster Coordinating was Council (RDCC) said last week that the police had filed complaints of illegal detention and grave coercion before the provential prosecutor’s office against the mayor, his chief of police and other persons in connection with their raid of the transverse dike.

Today April 2, 1997

P'panga residents told to evacuate

CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga - Some 20,000 people living in lahar- and flood-threatened barangays in four Pampanga towns were warned yesterday to evacuate this summer instead of waiting for the rainy season that is expected to bring more lahar flows and flood during heavy downpour. According to Senior Supt. Thompson Lantion, deputy regional police director for Central Luzon, among those alerted were the residents of "high-risk" barangays in Guagua, Santo Tomas, Minalin and San Fernando. Lantion also told TODAY that the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council has installed computerized disaster warning systems, particularly rain gauges and lahar sensors, along major rivers in Pampanga and other lahar affected provinces in Central Luzon. Lahar monitoring stations in critical areas, including river channels, have been activated to assure residents is the lahar- and flood-periled barangays that they will be warned on time in case of an impending disaster. At least 15 motorized bancas and about a dozen trucks have been readied in this camp by the disaster coordinating body in the region for use in cases of mass evacuation in this province. The police have also put on a "stand-by" status five amphibian trucks strategically located at the Army’s Northern Luzon Command in San Miguel, Tarlac, Tarlac, for use by the Armed Forces disaster-response team in evacuating lahar and flood victims to safer grounds. Lantion added that civilian volunteers have been under going training on disaster preparedness operation under the Task Force Saklolo based here for immediate deployment in calamity areas in case of another expected lahar onslaught.

SUN STAR Clark Mar 7, 1997 . . . Repair of breached megadike rushed

SAN FERNANDO -- Three private contractors are rushing the restoration of the 67-meter portion of the mega dike's transverse section in Bacalor town which was breached by rampaging watery lahar last August 3. These are the same repairs that were being rushed last Sept (see article below)!

Today Feb 20, 1997 ......6 years after, battle with lahar continues

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga -- Since 1991, when the Pinatubo onslaught began, government agencies have already spent some P23 billion in trying to contain the fury of nature. [Yes, that is $8.9 million]. More than 47,000 lahar displaced families have been resettled in various areas in Central Luzon. Some 153,400 evacuees have been provided livelihood. Antilahar and flood-control structures have been built to protect at least 20 towns here from further lahar depredations. Still lahar evacuees say there is much to be done by the government to really solve the problem on the dislocation of tens of thousands of families. Commission records state that at least 12,000 families are still languishing in cramped evacuation centers. Some P12 billion has already been spent for antilahar dikes along nine river systems in the region. Still, government engineers say some P5.2 billion more is needed to rehabilitate and build additional structures, as well as dredge heavily silted waterways.

Sun*Star Clark Dec 9, 1996

SAN FERNANDO -- Repair of the 67-meter portion of the megadike's transverse section in bacolor which was breached by rampaging watery lahar last Aug 3 has not been started yet due to the lack of necessary detailed engineering designs. Construction of the vital 11-kilometer upper extension of the megadike between Angeles City and Porac town also has yet to be started. Construction of the megadike extension has been delayed due to conflicts among government engineers, foreign consultants, and local politicians as well as affected residents in determining the dike's right-of-way.

Sun*Star Clark Dec 6, 1996

SAN FERNANDO -- Three world class view decks, with an initial appropriation of P68 million will be constructed soon by the DOT around Mt. Pinatubo to give tourists a rare opportunity to behold its crater and have a panoramic view of its surroundings.

Sun*Star Clark Dec 4, 1996

BACOLOR -- Two anti-lahar dikes in need of immediate repair on Pampanga are now falling apart, Public Works Secretary Gregoorio Vigilar has revealed.

CLARK FIELD -- Anti-lahar engineering structures, including river dikes constructed for more than P5 million along nine major river channels around Mt Pinatubo since 1993 have spared at least P104 billion worth of infrastructures and residential and agricultural communities in Central Luzon.

Sun*Star Clark Dec 2, 1996

SAN FERNANDO -- Some 9,000 families displaced by Mt Pinatubo eruptions and subsequent lahar flows will be spending their Christmas holidays in cramped evacuation centers in Central


MABALACAT -- The mayor said that the Raymundo Punongbayan (Director of Philvocs) has said that "Mabalacat is now free from the inundation of lahar."


BACOLOR -- President Ramos ordered Sunday the conversion of the 100-square kilometer lahar catch basin ringed by the megadike into a tourism haven that could provide livelihood to lahar victims.

SUN*STAR Mabuhay 13-19 Oct 96

CLARK FIELD-- Philvocs said Monday that Mt. Pinatubo is headed for possibly hundreds or even thousands of years of slumber. They said that the alert level zero which was declared late last January would remain "at least for the rest of our lifetime." Philvocs director Raymond Punongbayan said recently that some two to three million cubic meters more of lahar materials are still expected to be washed down from the slopes of Mt. Pinatubo in the next five to ten years, although the volume would be insignificant starting next year.

SUN * STAR Oct 6-12

EDITORIAL -- Despite adverse reports, local government officials as well as residents from highly critical areas in Pampanga could swear that the P 1.4 billion megadike is serving the very purpose for which it has been established. For the first time, lahar prone towns in Pampanga did not experience any inundations of lahar. This is partly because we have had less rain this year, but also this is mainly due to the completion of the mega structure. (Yes, since it hasn't rained very much, the dike is working! It is hard for the lahar to breach the dike if there is no lahar or flood waters on the inside of the dike. I will bet money that they will be looking for a scapegoat when we finally get a typhoon. But, don't worry, it doesn't rain much in the Philippines!!!!


SAN FERNANDO-- Construction workers at the breached portion of the mega dike have threatened to stage a mass walk-out if their weekly wages are not paid.


EDITORIAL -- Now that San Fernando is almost liberated from lahar and flooding menace, Fernandinos must start looking at the brighter side of life. Those who are planning to relocate elsewhere must reconsider their plans on account of the very bright future of this blessed and prosperous town. For Fernandinos who love San Fernando, don't go away. Stay right here where you belong. Be sure you are here when the great turnaround, of the decade happens anytime now.


SAN FERNANDO -- Secretary Gregorio Vigilar (DPWH) said last Tuesday that there is no need to evacuate lahar threatened residents of 10 town in the province. This was Vigilar's answer to suggestions made by DSDW urging residents of villages threatened by lahar flows to leave their homes for safer places. Vigilar said that repair of the collapsed megadike's transverse portion is being done on a 24-hour basis. The breach is a relatively small area - only 300 meters out of the entire 24 kilometers, or roughly 1.3 percent of the whole megadike. [let's see what he says after we get a real typhoon in central Luzon]

EXPAT 22-28 September

Renowned geologist Dr. Kevin Rodolfo said there have been no serious studies on the effects of lahar from Mt. Pinatubo, "maybe, because they're afraid of the answers." According to Rodolfo, it will take five more years in Pampanga and more than 20 years in Zambales before the volcanic debris is totally washed away. He calls the dikes "useless at best and dangerous and fatal at its worst."


The main crater of Mt. Pinatubo has finally calmed down, according to Director Raymundo Punongbayan of Philvocs. The government's chief volcanologist yesterday said except for minor secondary explosions, a major eruption is not expected in the near future. He also allayed fears of Central Luzon residents regarding mild tremors being felt near the volcano, saying these were the result of the dome's continued collapse. Punongbayan said millions of tons of volcanic debris deposited on the slopes of Mt. Pinatubo still pose a serious threat to thousands of residents in low-lying Pampanga towns. He added that in the worst case scenario San Fernando (Pampanga), nearby Sto. Thomas and Minalin could experience a similar fate of Barangay Cabalantian in Bacolor (which was buried by lahar Oct 1, 1995). A fairly spectacular secondary explosion occurred about 3 PM on the 17th of Oct 1996 during a light rain shower.


Repairs of the breached Mega Dike are rushed during the good weather by three construction firms. Additionally, workers strengthened the northern side of the Gapan-Olongapo road in anticipation of lahar flows through the 67-meter breach in the transverse dike.


SAN FERNANDO -- The happy announcement by government engineers that the megadike had withstood Wednesday's Intensity 5.8 earthquake gave way to alarm yesterday. The breaching of the dike was attributed to the earthquake. The dike had also been under severe strain from the buildup of lahar and 15-foot-high floodwaters after a series of typhoons that struck Luzon. [No typhoons really passed near Mt. Pinatubo] In Zambales, raging flood waters destroyed two dikes in San Narcisio and San Felipe towns yesterday, forcing nearly 20,000 residents to flee to higher ground.