Philippine scientists warned on July 4, 2021 that a volcano to the south of Manila could erupt again “anytime soon” as toxic gas emissions hit a record high. This has forced thousands of people from vulnerable communities to flee from their homes.

The Taal volcano has been emitting sulphur dioxide for the past week, creating a haze over the Philippines’ capital city Manila and several surrounding provinces, prompting health warnings.

Almost 4500 people have fled their homes after the authorities called for evacuations of high-risk areas on the lake’s shores.

Key Details

• According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), an eruption similar to July 1, 2021 may occur anytime soon. The institute had issued a level 3 alert when the Taal Volcano had discharged a giant plume of ash and smoke that reached up to 7 miles in the sky on July 1st. This was followed by four smaller bursts later in the evening. 

• Fearing a repeat of the eruption that took place in January 2020, the Philippine authorities have placed certain settlements under lockdown, temporarily preventing residents from returning to their properties.

• Over 14,000 people have been evacuated from the tourist province of Batangas, especially  residents of five high-risk villages in the lakeside towns of Agoncillo and Laurel.

• The authorities have asked people to stay away from a small island in a scenic lake where Taal volcano is located and several other nearby lakeside villages in Batangas province to the south of Manila. 

• According to authorities, the current eruption has the potential to become more dangerous than last year’s. They fear that bursts that launch ash and volcanic blocks high into the air, may subsequently rain down on the communities below, which was one of the primary hazards that hit Batangas in the January 2020 eruption.

• The volcanic smog from the Taal volcano also drifted as far as 40 miles north to Manila city earlier this week. 

• According to the volcano agency’s chief, Renato Solidum, it is too early to know if the volcano’s current unrest will lead to a full-blown eruption.

What does level 5 alert mean?

While level three alert level means that the magma is near or at the surface and activity could lead to hazardous eruption in weeks, level five means a life-threatening eruption is occurring that could endanger communities.

Twin Perils of Volcano and COVID-19?

While thousands of people have been evacuated from villages surrounding the Taal volcano, officials fear that the emergency shelters will turn into epicenters of COVID-19 infections.

About Taal Volcano 

• Taal volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in a nation that is hit periodically by eruptions and earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, which is a zone of intense seismic activity. All the volcanos in the Philippines fall under the Ring of Fire.

• The volcano is located in the Batangas province and has 34 recorded historical eruptions, all of which were concentrated on Volcano Island, near the middle of Taal Lake. 

• The volcano is located about 50 km south of Manila, the capital city of the Philippines.

• The volcano has a history violent eruptions that have claimed many lives on the island and nearby populated area. .

• The volcano was designated a Decade Volcano due to its proximity to populated areas and its eruptive history, which calls for a close study to prevent future disasters. 

January 2020 Eruption

• The Taal volcano had erupted last in January 2020, displacing hundreds of thousands of people and briefly suspending operations at Manila’s international airport. 

• The eruption had involved a level 4 alert when massive plumes of ash and debris from the volcano blasted up to seven miles into the sky accompanied by volcanic lightning and spewing of red-hot lava. 

• The disaster had claimed the lives of 39 people and displaced hundreds of thousands of locals. The volcano had been even deadlier earlier, as an eruption in 1911 claimed the lives of 1,300 people.

 

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