Back to business amid Taal unrest

BATANGAS. A family flees to safety after Taal Volcano erupted Sunday, January 12, 2020. (AP)

FINANCIAL markets, some schools and offices reopened while flight operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport partially resumed Tuesday, January 14, as ash fall from the Taal Volcano eruption ceased in Metro Manila.

The volcano’s main crater, however, continued to erupt and Alert Level 4, which means that a “hazardous explosive eruption” is possible within hours or days, remained hoisted, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said in an advisory at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Department of Science and Technology Undersecretary Renato U. Solidum, Phivolcs officer-in-charge, said it takes time for volcanic ash to travel from Taal to Metro Manila.

Besides, wind direction changed and steam-laden plumes that disperse volcanic ash moved towards the southwest and west of the main crater, he said.

“Wala, walang ash fall (in Metro Manila). Tumigil naman yung ash fall dito (Quezon City) madaling araw eh. Kasi you need time for the ash to travel from Taal to Metro Manila,” Solidum said in a press briefing Tuesday morning.

Heavy ash fall was reported in the towns of Lemery, Talisay, Taal, and Cuenca, Batangas.

Over 35,000 people have been evacuated from 27 cities and municipalities affected by the eruption in Batangas, the local Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) said.

Classes in Batangas, Cavite and some parts of Metro Manila and Calabarzon were still suspended to spare the students from the effects of the ash fall.

Citing the report of the Local Disaster Risk Management Office (LDRMO) as of 11:45 p.m of Monday, January 13, the OCD-Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) said a total of 35,945 persons or 7,730 families were being served in 130 evacuation centers within the province of Batangas.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said there were also evacuees from the province of Cavite.

The disaster council said there were no reported casualties from the calamity.

Three road sections, two in Batangas and one in Cavite, were closed to traffic due to the effects of Taal's phreatic eruption.

Power is still out in the cities of Tagaytay, Lipa and Tanauan as well as in the towns of Laurel, Talisay and Lemery in Batangas.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development assured assistance for the affected families.

In its latest bulletin on Taal Volcano, Phivolcs said the ongoing eruption of the main crater generated 500-meter tall lava fountains topped by dark gray steam-laden plumes reaching approximately two kilometers tall.

“Flashes of volcanic lightning were observed at the base of the degassing plumes (Tuesday) morning. New vents opened up on the northern flank where short 500-meter lava fountains, and within the main crater where steam plumes, have emanated,” the agency added.

The Philippine Seismic Network has recorded 212 volcanic earthquakes in Taal region as of 2 a.m. Tuesday.

“Such intense seismic activity probably signifies continuous magmatic intrusion beneath the Taal edifice, which may lead to further eruptive activity,” Phivolcs said.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission was measured at an average of 5299 tonnes/day on Monday, January 13.

At the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the NDRRMC said a total of 604 flights have been cancelled since operations were suspended at 7 p.m. Sunday, January 12.

Operations partially resumed before noon Monday, but some flights were still cancelled. As of 5 a.m. Tuesday, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) reported that 50 domestic and international flights have been cancelled. (SunStar Philippines)


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