Philippine quarries under scrutiny after deadly mudflow buries homes

Philippine quarries under scrutiny after deadly mudflow buries homes

ALBAY, Philippines — When Typhoon Goni made landfall in the Philippines on Nov. 1, 2020, experts predicted disaster. A day earlier, the national volcanology institute, PHIVOLCS, had warned that heavy rainfall from the storm, known locally as Super Typhoon Rolly, could trigger a flow of lahar: the slurry of mud generated when rainwater mixes with volcanic ash, and which can barrel downslope like a river of concrete. The prediction proved accurate. After Goni hit, a lahar avalanche coursed down the unstable sides of Mount Mayon, an active volcano, burying 300 houses, killing five people and leaving three missing in the town of Guinobatan in Albay province. “Despite our preemptive evacuation response, we had casualties because the flood reached parts of the villages that were not flooded before,” Joy Maravillas, Guinobatan’s disaster risk and reduction management head, tells Mongabay. For many in Albay, about 450 kilometers (280 miles) southeast of Manila, the culprit for the disaster was not just the typhoon: villagers say the rampant and poorly regulated quarrying taking place uphill amplified the devastation caused by the typhoon. Albay is part of the Bicol region in the southeastern island of Luzon In an online interview, former Guinobatan mayor Christopher Flores says that “floods are natural in Guinobatan,” and that “there is nothing intrinsically wrong with quarrying.” But he adds that “the [excessive] quarrying activities definitely exacerbated and made the floods more devastating and catastrophic. [Add] to that … the substandard dikes.” Guinobatan, thanks to its location on the slope of…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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