Flash Update No. 3 - Philippines: Taal Volcano eruption (As of 21 January 2020, 2 p.m. local time)

Situation Report
Originally published


Situation Overview

The Taal Volcano continues to be active more than one week after it erupted on 12 January.
Activity in the past 24 hours has been characterized by a steady steam emission and infrequent weak explosions. These emissions have generated ash plumes between 500 and 1,000 meters tall and have dispersed ash southwest of the main crater, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS).

While the volcano is exhibiting less intensive activity than in previous days, the possibly of a larger eruption has not been ruled out and PHIVOCS has maintained Alert Level-4 (out of 5) signifying that a hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours or days. Ongoing seismic activity and an observed deformation of the volcano over the past 24 hours likely signifies continuous magmatic intrusion beneath the volcano, raising concerns of further eruptive activity. The potential for an explosive eruption leading to a fast-moving pyroclastic base surge of hot gases and volcanic material is of particular concern.

A total evacuation order remains in place for the Taal Volcano Island and high-risk areas within the 14-km radius of the volcano’s crater and along the Pansipit River Valley where fissuring has been observed. According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), as of 21 January, more than 271,000 people are affected, of whom more than 148,000 people are being assisted in over 490 evacuation centres, and over 87,000 people are with host families. The Department of Education reports that more than 300 schools are being used as evacuation centres, affecting more than 9,700 students. According to the Department of Agriculture, more than 15,000 hectares of agricultural lands have been affected. The financial cost of damage and losses to agriculture and fisheries is estimated at ₱3.17 billion (US$ 62 million), with the fisheries sector accounting for about half of the losses.

Government response and support by humanitarian partners

Provincial and municipal authorities are leading the disaster response with the support of the Department of Social Welfare and Development field office and the Philippine Red Cross. Local authorities are distributing relief items as they continue to assess needs. A total of more ₱ 8.5 million (US$ 167,000) worth of assistance has so far been provided by DSWD to affected people. The Philippine Red Cross are distributing aid and have set up first aid stations and welfare desks to provide psychosocial support to affected people. The Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PFRF) is coordinating with its private sector members who are providing road clearing and mobile service support, water, food, face masks, and other relief items.

UN agencies and humanitarian partners with existing programmes in-country are assisting the Government with technical and logistical support to local and regional authorities to assess and respond to the needs of people affected by the disaster. Following a request by DSWD, the UN and partners are supporting the Government in conducting a sectoral assessment of the humanitarian needs of displaced people in evacuation centres on 21-22 January.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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