PHIVOLCS warns of ‘hazardous explosive eruption’ of Taal Volcano soon

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 12) — The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised Alert Level 4 over Taal Volcano, warning that the volcano, which showed a marked unrest Sunday afternoon, may soon have a “hazardous explosive eruption.”

PHIVOLCS recommended that all residents within a 14-kilometer radius of the volcano’s crater be evacuated, due to the “high risk to pyroclastic density currents and volcanic tsunami.”

All residents of the Taal Volcano Island have been evacuated, the Office of Civil Defense in Calabarzon region said. Forced evacuation is also underway in some areas in Tagaytay City in Cavite, and in Balete, Laurel, San Nicolas and Agoncillo towns in Batangas.

"The volcano is inside a bigger crater or basin or bowl, which is why people would have to evacuate horizontally and away from the crater. There is water that would be hindering the rapid evacuation and that is why people need to get out of the island as soon as possible," PHIVOLCS officer-in-charge Renato Solidum told CNN Philippines.

Disaster reduction officials have assured that they have enough supplies to provide families affected by Taal Volcano’s unrest.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine Navy said they were on alert to provide support in light of the Taal Volcano's increased activity.

In a statement, AFP Spokesperson BGen Edgar Arevalo said Luzon-baed units have been placed on red alert since 6 p.m.Sunday.

Units which could assist local government units affected by the volcano have been deployed, along with military trucks and disaster response teams.

The Philippine Navy said several units were on standby and ready to be deployed "anytime."

Ash fall

It added that eruptive activity of the volcano in Batangas has increased since 5:30 p.m., which spewed a 10-15-kilometer-high ash column.

This has sent ash falling on nearby provinces and areas as far north as Quezon City, PHIVOLCS said. People have lined up at medical supply and hardware stores across Metro Manila, which are quickly running out of masks which would offer protection from the hazardous volcanic ash.

Classes on Monday in several areas in Batangas, nearby province Cavite, and several cities in Metro Manila, including the capital city, have been suspended.Classes in all levels have also been suspended in Cavite due to ashfall.

Manila’s main gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, has also suspended all incoming and outgoing flights due to Taal Volcano’s unrest.

The Department of Health has warned that exposure to falling ash may cause a number of health problems. It has recommended that people should stay indoors as much as possible and use dust masks and goggles for protection when going outside.

Taal showed a marked increase in volcanic activity on Sunday, with PHIVOLCS raising alert levels two, three and four in a course of a few hours. The seismological agency, however, has been monitoring the volcano since March 2019.

Taal is one of the shortest volcanoes in the world and is the second-most active volcano in the Philippines. Its last eruption was in 1977.

This is a developing story.