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ASEAN Weekly Disaster Update, 06 Jan – 12 Jan 2020

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Dry weather persisted over the northern ASEAN region, with scattered and isolated hotspots detected in Cambodia, southern parts of Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. In the southern portion of the ASEAN region, heavy to moderate rains were continuous and have caused several localised floods and landslides, particularly in Indonesia. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, Taal Volcano is continuously erupting, has spewed ash since Sunday, 12 January 2020. Thousands of people had been pre-emptively evacuated as the volcano status is currently on intense unrest, with plausible hazardous eruption within hours to days.


On 12 January 2020 evening, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) has raised Alert Level 4 over Taal Volcano, indicating that hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days. In its advisory on the same day, the agency reiterated total evacuation of Taal Volcano Island and additional evacuation of areas at high-risk to pyroclastic density currents and volcanic tsunami within a 14- kilometre radius from the main crater, and encouraged people in surrounding areas to stay alert against effects of heavy and prolonged ash fall. Currently, more than 50,000 people are affected; of which, more than 82% are displaced in 217 evacuation centres.


During the week, the Northeast Monsoon, together with the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) affected several areas in Indonesia. These atmospheric activities brought continuous moderate to heavy rain across the archipelago, and caused floods and landslides. Meanwhile, the Mekong sub-region remained generally dry, where hotspots and smoke plumes were observed.


There were seven (7) earthquake events with magnitude 5.0 and above that occurred last week in Indonesia (BMKG) and the Philippines (PHIVOLCS). None of these earthquakes have caused significant impacts. Meanwhile, Taal Volcano is currently on Alert Level 4 as its recent activities indicate a possible hazardous explosive eruption.


The ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) reported that dry conditions are expected to persist in the Mekong sub-region in the next few days. With the prevailing winds forecasted to remain light and variable in direction, and persisting hazy conditions. While in the southern ASEAN region, continuous scattered showers can be expected.