Phivolcs: Evacuate from areas near Taal Volcano where fissures appeared

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 15 2020 01:23 PM | Updated as of Jan 15 2020 01:27 PM

MANILA - Phivolcs reminded the public on Wednesday that areas near the Taal Volcano where new fissures or cracks appeared should have already been evacuated.

In its 8 a.m. bulletin, Phivolcs said new fissures or cracks were observed in the villages of Sinisian, Mahabang Dahilig, Dayapan, Palanas, Sangalang, Poblacion, Mataas na Bayan in Lemery town; Pansipit, Bilibinwang in Agoncillo; Poblacion 1, Poblacion 2, Poblacion 3, Poblacion 5 in Talisay; and Poblacion in San Nicolas.

Phivolcs director Renato Solidum said such cracks appeared because the area is bulging due to the rising magma flowing towards Taal Volcano.

But in television reports yesterday, residents could still be seen in these areas despite the damage caused by fissures on some houses and roads.

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Phivolcs had earlier said the Taal Volcano island and high-risk areas within 14 kilometers of the main crater should be evacuated, especially now that alert level 4, which warns of a hazardous eruption in the coming hours or days, is in effect. 

Solidum said they sent people to check on the fissures but had them leave immediately.

“We are exposing people’s lives,” he explained, adding that the science is already clear about the correlation between fissures and volcanic activity.

Meanwhile, Phivolcs Volcano Monitoring and Eruption Prediction Division chief Mariton Bornas said that they will be tapping international space organizations to measure the fissures. Doing so would be safer.

“Using satellite technology, we can quantify the subsidence (of the ground) or if there is displacement,” she said.

Bornas pointed out that such fissures also appeared during the last major eruptions of the Taal Volcano. During the 1911 eruption, fissures were recorded in the towns of Lemery, Taal, San Nicolas, Talisay and Tanauan in Batangas.

Solidum said that houses should no longer be built five meters from both sides of such fissures. 

He said they have already recommended a long-term land use plan that takes into consideration such hazards.

Bornas also suggested that houses and infrastructure damaged by the fissures should be memorialized or preserved to show future generations the hazards of natural disasters.

“These should be preserved as living memory that these are danger zones,” she said, adding that a similar practice is being done in Japan.