10/01/2014, 00.00
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Filipino Catholics helping thousands displaced by Mayon volcano

After rumbling back to life a few days ago, the volcano represents a clear and present danger. At least, 11,000 families have fled their homes so far. Caritas Manila and Radyo Veritas launch a fundraising campaign. The measures taken show the Church's "loving presence".

Manila (AsiaNews/CBCP) - After an initial assessment of the projected damage from Mayon's impending eruption, various Church groups have begun a fund raising campaign in favour of evacuees.

Lava outflows resumed recently, and, according to experts, the danger of a large-scale phenomenon is real. Experts note that the volcano could erupt "at any time". For this reason, some 11,000 families have already been evacuated and are currently housed in 45 shelters in Albay province.

In recent days, CBCP-NASSA (the episcopal agency in charge of social and charitable activities), in collaboration with the Catholic Relief Service (CRS), came up with an estimate for the possible damages and number of people affected in case the volcano erupts.

Fr Anton CT Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila, and the Quiapo Church have allocated 500,000 pesos each (just over US$ 11,000) to the Diocese of Legazpi, for the 'Harong project'.

The Church's intervention, Fr Pascual said, is a token of its "loving presence" among those most in need, as was the case in other natural disasters like typhoon Yolanda.

Fr Rex Arjona, director of the Legazpi diocese's Social Action Centre (SAC), told Radyo Veritas that the ongoing "Harong Project" is a response to the needs of residents displaced by the calamity. It also includes celebrating the Eucharist at evacuation centres.

At the same time, Caritas Manila and Radyo Veritas launched a 'Damayan Kapanalig', a radio fundraiser for Albay residents affected and displaced by the volcano.

The evacuation measure concerns residents in villages - more than 11,000 families - within a six-kilometre radius from the volcano.

The Philippines is on the so-called "ring of fire" in the Pacific, characterised by intense volcanic and seismic activity.

In 1990, an earthquake measuring 7.7 killed more than 2,000 people in Luzon.

In 2003, the Mayon Volcano killed 80 people following a violent explosion in the main crater.

In March 2010, a 6.2 earthquake struck off the island of Luband, in Mindanao, but was felt in the capital Manila, more than 130 km from the epicentre.

Lastly, in August 2012, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake was felt off the east coast of Samar Island, causing a tsunami warning and local general evacuation.

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