Thousands of residents flee Taal Volcano wrath

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 13 2020 08:19 AM | Updated as of Jan 13 2020 11:07 AM

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MANILA (UPDATE) - Thousands of residents have fled Taal island after the volcano belched a 50,000-feet-tall ash cloud which blanketed parts of Manila and nearby areas.

As of 9 a.m. Monday, some 13,000 individuals have been evacuated from the towns of Balete, Talisay, San Nicolas, Agoncillo, Laurel, Alitagtag, Mataas na kahoy, Lemery and the cities of Tanauan and Lipa in Batangas, according to national disaster risk reduction spokesman Mark Timbal.

"The volcano island is empty now. There are [no more] residents there," he told ANC.

Batangas provincial disaster reduction head Lito Castro earlier said residents were evacuated 15 kilometers from the island volcano.

"Most of shoreline residents ay nailayo na. Hanggang 15 kilometers nailayo na po sa mainland," he told ANC's Early Edition.

Castro said Batangas would be needing additional supply of drinking water, while power has been knocked out in the towns of Tanauan, Talisay, Laurel, and Agoncillo since Sunday evening.

Communication lines are stable, he added.

Castro said they were taken aback by the quick escalation of the volcano's activity.

"A few months ago, napansin 'yung pag-increase ng volcanic quakes kaya lang 'yung ibang parameters like the temperature of water, water acidity hindi pa makita, hindi pa makatugon dun sa pamantayan para itaas 'yung alert level," he said.

"Nasorpresa tayo kasi sunod-sunod ang pagtaas ng alert level dahil sa mabilis na pagbabago at paggalaw ng Bulkang Taal."

The province's officials will meet later Monday for an emergency meeting to discuss the possible declaration of a state of calamity, according to Castro.