Volcanic eruption in the Philippines raised to second-highest level

Published On January 14, 2020 | By Sean Marco | News
Ash cloud from the Taal Volcano could be seen in Cavite City. (Kester Ragaza/Getty Images)
Sean Marco

The small but dangerous Taal volcano, 60 kilometres from the Filipino capital of Manila, spewing ash and lava since Jan. 12 is at alert level 4.

Nearly half a million people in the “danger” zone have been urged to evacuate to safer areas but may still affected by the volcanic activity.

17km and 14km danger zones. (BBC)

Mila Garcia, Managing Editor of the Philippine Reporter in Toronto said her family and friends in the Metro Manila area are struggling to even get masks.

“People are lining up for masks and they are quickly running out,” Garcia said. “I advised my family to use a wet towel to use as a mask.”

Due to the lack of N95 masks, Garcia said people are resorting to surgical masks.

In a matter of hours from its first spew, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) raised the level one alert to a level four, indicating that a larger explosive eruption can occur in the coming hours or days.

The highest alert level is five, which indicates an eruption is currently taking place.

Mark Terry, a York University environmental studies professor, said ash is the biggest worry.

“The ash can spread far depending on the wind patterns but shouldn’t cause further climate change,” Terry said. “Airports in the affected areas would shut down due to the ash fall and people in those areas will be the ones mainly affected.”

Since volcanic ash can travel hundreds of kilometres within hours, Manila’s airport has closed due to the risk.

Cities as far as Quezon City, just north of Manila, have been affected by the volcano over 100 kilometres away.

A worker in the Batangas Province hoses down plants covered in mud and ash. (Ted Aljibe/Getty Images)

Citizens affected in Manila are wearing face masks when leaving their homes to prevent inhaling dangerous debris.

It is very worrying because of the location of Taal Volcano and its proximity to some of the biggest cities in the Philippines.

About 25 million people reside within a hundred kilometres of the volcano, and if the volcano has a bigger eruption, it’ll most likely cause extensive damage.

A popular tourist destination, Tagaytay is covered in heavy ash. It is within the 14-kilometre zone of the Taal Volcano.

Iceland faced a similar situation in 2010, where the Eyjafjallajökull erupted and citizens were evacuated.

That eruption Terry said it caused problems for people in the area and airports across Europe to ground flights for up to five days until the ash fall reduced.

Residents around the Taal Volcano getting set to evacuate. (Ted Aljibe/Getty Images)

Taal Volcano is a small volcano compared to others but it is the second most active volcano in the Philippines.

Due to its complex volcanic system, placement, and multiple eruption points, it is a dangerous volcano.

The Taal Volcano is a “baby volcano” sitting in a caldera volcano, inside Taal lake.

It has erupted at least 35 times in the last few hundred years, the most recent one being in 1977.

An eruption in 1911 was the most violent one to date killing more than 1,300 people due to volcanic rocks being shot out of the volcano.

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