Mass evacuation underway in Batangas areas as Taal Volcano continues to rumble

MANILA, Philippines – Thousands of residents in some areas in Batangas have been advised to evacuate as Taal Volcano was placed under Alert Level 3 on Thursday, July 1.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) urged residents to leave high-risk barangays as soon as possible as Taal Volcano continues to spew volcanic smog and haze. By 3:16 PM, the volcano generated a “short-lived” one kilometer-high phreatomagmatic plume, as confirmed by Phivolcs director Undersecretary Renato Solidum Jr.

The Bureau of Fire Protection personnel assists residents during the voluntary evacuation in Brgy. San Sebastian in Balete, Batangas. Photo Credit: Bfp Balete FS Batangas

In a volcano bulletin posted by Phivolcs, Alert Level 3 means that a "hazardous eruption is possible within days to weeks.”

“This means that there is magmatic intrusion at the Main Crater that may further drive succeeding eruptions,” it explained.

The following areas were identified by the agency for evacuation:
  • Barangays Gulod, Boso-boso, and Lakeshore Bugaan East in Laurel, Batangas
  • Barangays Banyaga and Bilibinwang in Agoncillo, Batangas
  • Taal Volcano Island
  • Taal Lake

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council stated that they have been coordinating the local government units of Cavite and Batangas.

NDRRMC spokesperson Mark Timbal assured that the communities on the Taal Volcano Island have already been evacuated.

"The advisory is to evacuate volcano island, and the high-risk barangays of Agoncillo and Laurel, Batangas... please be informed that contingency measures for this kind of emergency are already in place. The LGUs will lead evac activities assisted by RDRRMC member agencies," Timbal explained.

Over 3,523 families or 14,495 individuals are expected to evacuate from the affected barangays.

Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) said that police offices and units have been alerted to coordinate with the LGUs in assisting the needs of their residents.

Eleazar also reiterated that no one should be allowed near the danger zone. He said that local police officers were tasked to help monitor the volcano's activity.

He remarked, "We will make sure that no one approaches the said island. It is better that we be alert and ready to ensure the safety of everyone."

Taal is one of the world's smallest active volcanoes. Despite standing at only 1,020-foot, it can be deadly and an eruption in 1911 killed more than 1,300 people.

In January last year, Taal shot a column of ash and steam as high as 15 km into the sky, which forced more than 100,000 people to leave their homes, massive flight cancellations and heavy ash falls in Manila and nearby provinces.

— Sally, The Summit Express

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