Batangas residents evacuated over Taal Volcano's 'increased activity'

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 16 2021 03:22 PM | Updated as of Feb 16 2021 05:24 PM

Courtesy of Philippine Coast Guard

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Batangas provincial government on Tuesday ordered the evacuation of residents on the island where Taal Volcano sits due to its "slightly increased" activity.

In its 8 a.m. bulletin, Phivolcs placed the danger level of the Taal Volcano at alert level 1 out of a possible 5, which means it was at an "abnormal" condition.

"Sudden steam-driven or phreatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, minor ashfall and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas can occur and threaten areas within the Taal Volcano Island," the agency said.

The Philippine Coast Guard said it was undertaking preemptive evacuation as a precautionary measure and had evacuated nearly 20 people so far— fewer than the initial number of residents targeted for evacuation.

"As of yesterday, before kami nagkaroon ng emergency meeting, meron pong impormasyon na halos 200 indibiduwal. Ngunit sa aming pag-iikot ngayong umaga, hindi na gano'n 'yong numero, mas bumaba. Siguro 'yong iba ay lumikas na rin, voluntary na paglikas," PCG-Batangas chief Capt. Geronimo Tuvilla told Teleradyo.

(As of yesterday, before we had an emergency meeting, there was information that about 200 people [will be evacuated]. However, as we were checking [the island] this morning, it was less. Maybe, some voluntarily evacuated.)

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said some 63 families or 200 individuals from Sitio Tabla and Sitio San Isidro in Talisay town were subject for the evacuation.

"Most of the residents naman daw po do'n ay may bahay po sa mainland. 'Yon pong iba naman po dadalhin sa facility na established po ng LGU," it said in a statement.

(Most of the residents have houses in the mainland. Others will be brought to the facility of the local government unit.)

Phivolcs advised that entry into the Taal Volcano Island, Taal’s Permanent Danger Zone or PDZ, especially the vicinities of the main crater and the Daang Kastila fissure, must remain strictly prohibited. 

The Taal Volcano Network recorded 98 tremor episodes having durations of 5 to 12 minutes in the past 24 hours.

The agency reported "slightly increased seismic activity and main crater lake changes" at Taal Volcano on Monday.

The volcano, which sits on an island surrounded by a lake in Batangas province, had a steam-driven eruption on Jan. 12, 2020, triggering an ash fall that reached parts of Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

The eruption displaced nearly 350,000 people in the provinces of Batangas, Quezon, Laguna and Cavite.

Taal Volcano is among 24 active volcanoes in the Philippines and has recorded 33 eruptions since 1572. Its worst eruption was in 1911 where some 1,335 people were killed, data from Phivolcs showed. 

- With a report from Dennis Datu, ABS-CBN News

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