Philippines Situation Report #2 - January 22, 2020
• An Alert Level 4 remains in effect for the Taal Volcano, indicating that a hazardous, explosive eruption is still possible within hours to days.
• Over the past 24 hours, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has reported nearly 450 volcanic earthquakes.
• Approximately 460,000 people live within the evacuation zone.
SITUATION AT A GLANCE
• Priority needs include nonfood items, including hygiene/dignity kits, WASH items for evacuation centers, and mental health and psychosocial support.
More than one week after it erupted on January 12, the Taal Volcano continues to be active. Over the past 24 hours, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) has registered nearly 450 volcanic earthquakes. Since this morning, PHIVOLCS has reported no ash emissions; however, strong winds have remobilized and transported unconsolidated ash toward the southwest region, affecting the towns of Lemery and Agoncilo. While overall volcanic activity has slowed, an Alert Level 4 remains in effect, indicating that hazardous explosive eruption is still possible within hours to days.
This volcanic activity comes just weeks after Typhoon Phanfone (known locally as Typhoon Ursula) made landfall as a Category 2 storm on December 24, affecting more than 3.2 million people. 1 Though the number of people taking shelter in temporary evacuation centers established for the typhoon has declined, the government of the Philippines has reported that there are still more than 31,000 people staying with family and friends as a result of the storm.
A total evacuation order remains in place for Taal Volcano Island and for high-risk areas within a 8.6 mile (14 km) radius of the main crater of the volcano. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reports that approximately 460,000 people reside within the evacuation zone. As of January 21, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reported that more than 148,000 people are currently being assisted in almost 500 evacuation centers. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) remains on high alert and has issued warnings that if the eruption plume remains as-is, ash plumes will drift to municipalities southwest and west of Taal Volcano. However, if a major eruption occurs within the forecast period and eruption plumes exceed 3.1 miles (5 km), ash plumes will drift over metro Manila, Laguna and some parts of Rizal and northern Quezon.
Provincial and municipal authorities are leading response efforts, with support from DSWD and the Philippine Red Cross. Additionally, the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) is coordinating with private-sector members, which are providing road clearing and mobile service spport, water, food, face masks and other relief items. As of January 20, only one road section remains impassable due to the exclusion zone. The NDRRMC has reported that a total of 264 cities and munipalities in Calabarzon, Mimaropa and NCR have declared suspension of classes, with the majority of schools resuming regular operations as of January 20.