MANILA - Plants and wildlife in Taal island are already dead following the volcano's release of ash and lava, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Tuesday.
As of early Tuesday, some 18,000 residents from the towns of Laurel, Balete, Talisay, San Nicolas, Agoncillo, Alitagtag, Mataas na Kahoy, Lemery and the cities of Tanauan and Lipa in Batangas have been evacuated, according to NDRRMC spokesman Mark Timbal.
"The residents were the first ones to be evacuated, and the animals were next in line. But when rescuers were supposed to return, the escalation prevented them from doing so," he told ANC's Early Edition.
"We were informed during aerial inspection that both flora and fauna in the volcano are dead already so there would be no reason for our rescuers to return."
The figure will rise as some residents within the 14-kilometer danger zone continue to be evacuated, Timbal said.
"We surmise that the reason for them insisting of going now because they are aware that alert level 4 means there’s an imminent eruption," he said.
Supply for residents in 76 evacuation centers are still sufficient but donations of food, drinkable water, and sleeping kits are welcome, he added.
Donations may be coursed through the NDRRMC, the social welfare department, and local government units, Timbal said.
In the event of prolonged volcanic activity, classes will be held in evacuation centers while some areas will be allocated for evacuees, he added.
"More often than not the very students of that school are the ones staying in the evacuation center," Timbal said.
'No man's land'
Once the volcano's activity deescalates, government will no longer allow the construction of permanent homes in the volcano island, according to Timbal.
The government will help rebuild and rehabilitate established communities in the mainland of Batangas province, he added.
"The main volcanic island will be considered as a no man’s land. No communities allowed to be rebuilt there. They will not be allowed to return, they will be provided resettlement site," he said.
"This does not mean we will not be allowing the rest to go in the future. We will not be allowing residential areas to be built in that island."
Timbal advised the public to monitor the official social media pages of NDRRMC, Phivolcs, and Office of the Civil Defense and warned against hoaxes.