Several Batangas towns on lockdown amid ashfall from Taal

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 15 2020 05:30 PM | Updated as of Jan 15 2020 06:43 PM

Residents clear ash from their roof in Agoncillo, Batangas on Tuesday, 2 days after Taal Volcano’s eruption on January 12, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - (2nd UPDATE) The Batangas local governments of Lemery, Agoncillo, and Laurel shut off their towns on Wednesday amid continued ashfall following Taal Volcano's Sunday eruption.

Agoncillo Mayor Daniel Reyes said he ordered a lock down at 1 p.m. while Laurel Mayor Joan Amo closed the area at 5 p.m.

Lemery was placed under lockdown at 6 p.m. except Barangays Gulod, Arumahan, Talaga, Payapa Ilaya, Mayasang, Niugan and some portions of Brgy. Payapa Ibaba, said Lemery Mayor Eulalio Alilio.

"May mga ilan [na barangay] naman na mataas-taas po," he told radio DZMM.

Talisay town has been closed since Tuesday.

During the lockdown period, residents are not allowed to return to their homes. The government has set up evacuation centers in nearby towns. 

Residents on Wednesday check a house in Barangay Sinisian East, Lemery, Batangas damaged by an earthquake following the eruption of the Taal Volcano. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

Taal Volcano has been on Alert Level 1 since March 2019 because of the monitored volcanic earthquakes. It took only five hours for the alert level to be raised from 2 to 3 and finally 4, on Sunday. 

Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum said earthquakes or the tilt of the volcano suddenly escalated after 1 p.m. on Sunday. 

Alert level 4 remained Wednesday, which meant a hazardous explosive eruption was possible within hours to days, Phivolcs had said.

There is a total evacuation of residents in the Taal Volcano island and areas within a 14-kilometer radius from the main crater.

In tourist favorite Tagaytay, fast food joints, and restaurants are still closed as some establishments are still cloaked in sulfuric ash, as of Tuesday. 

One of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines, Taal has erupted more than 30 times in the past 5 centuries, most recently in 1977. An eruption in 1911 killed 1,500 people and one in 1754 lasted for a few months.

- With a report from Kristine Sabillo, Katrina Domingo, Gabriel Agcaoili, ABS-CBN News