Philippines: Taal Volcano eruption - Information Bulletin

The situation

On 12 January 2020, the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (DOST- PHIVOLCS) raised an Alert Level 4 after increasing activity of Taal Volcano, which is located on the island of Luzon in Batangas, CALABARZON (Region IV-A). An Alert Level 4 means that a hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days; and warrants a “Danger Zone” of up to 14 kilometres from the Main Crater. Taal Volcano is amongst the most active volcanoes in the Philippines, with more than 30 reported eruptions. According to DOST- PHIVOLCS, eruptive activity at Taal Volcano Main Crater has intensified, with continuous eruptions generating a 10 – 15 kilometres of steam laden cloud of super-heated ash, with frequent volcanic lightning that has rained wet ashfall as far as Quezon City, some 100 kilometres away.

Volcanic tremors have been reported, with volcanic earthquakes measuring magnitude 2.5 and 3.9 felt at Intensity III (Weak) in Batangas province. As of 19:00 hrs (local time) on 12 January 2020, power supplies in areas of Batangas in the vicinity of Taal Volcano have been disrupted, and roads are impassable. Taal Volcano is situated on Volcano Island, an island near the middle Taal Island, and is listed as a “Permanent Danger Zone”, with permanent settlement on the island not recommended. Though a larger volcanic eruption at Taal is currently unlikely, precautionary evacuations of at-risk communities living the cities of Lipa and Tanuana; as well as municipalities of Agoncillo, Balete, Cuenca, San Nicholas and Talisay with a combined total population of approximately 161,427, have been initiated on the advice of DOST- PHIVOLCS. Total of nine (9) evacuation centres (EC) have been established. Areas north of Taal Volcano are being advised to guard against the effects of heavy and prolonged ashfall. It is expected that eruptions could continue for up to three months, and impact on the provinces of Batangas, Cavite and Laguna, as well as nearby regions including Metro Manila.

In Metro Manila, light ash fall has been reported, which may result in traffic disruptions. The Manila International Airport Authority has announced that all flights are on hold at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), including both arrivals and departures due to volcanic ashfall. Local Government authorities (LGA) across Metro Manila have begun to recommend staying inside due to the potential respiratory issues from the ashfall, while municipal authorities have also begun announcing class suspensions from 13 January 2020.