(JANUARY 13, 2020) – Local government officials on Monday placed Batangas province under a state of calamity as Taal Volcano erupted, forcing close to 25,000 people to flee their homes around the volcanic island.
Batangas Vice Governor Mark Leviste said about 12 towns around Taal, the country’s second most active volcano, are affected by the sudden violent activity, which began around 11 a.m. on Sunday with a mild volcanic tremor.
As of 2 pm, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said at least 5,428 families or 24,508 persons have been moved to 75 temporary shelter areas in the towns of Lian, Alitagtag, and Sto. Tomas towns, the first reported mass evacuation since 1977.
“All the people on the volcano island have been evacuated,” Leviste said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who is also the chairman of the national disaster agency, has called on all remaining residents within the 14-km radius area to evacuate immediately.
“Pansamantala lang ito, siguro naman, walang magnanakaw sa mga gamit niyo, kung nandyan kayo sa tabi ng bulkan. Umalis na kayo riyan at pumunta muna kayo sa safe na area,” Lorenzana said.
The Department of Health has promised to augment N95 masks, collapsible jerry cans, eye drops, and water disinfectants to Region IV-A.
The National Food Authority (NFA) also assured there are enough rice stocks for the affected areas by the ashfall due to the explosion.
Region IV has a total of 1,930,000 bags, NCR has 197,000, while Region III has 1,963,000 bags ready for disposal. The NFA also guaranteed the sacks are safe for consumption, as they are kept in properly maintained spaces unaffected by the ashfall.
“There are NFA employees who are on skeletal force in central and fiekd offices and in warehouses, ready to serve the requirement of the LGUs, DSWD and other relief agencies should they need rice for the ashfall victims,” administrator Judy Dansal said in a statement. (Randell Ritumalta/MM)