NDRRMC on red alert over Taal unrest
The NDRMCC Operations Center communicates with regional units of the Office of Civil Defense in this handout photo
Presidential Communications Operations Office, handout

NDRRMC on red alert over Taal unrest

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - January 13, 2020 - 10:36am

MANILA, Philippines — The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council's main operations center has activated its alert status to red, they said in their 6 a.m. bulletin Monday, which means that all disaster officials in the region are required to report to their headquarters 24/7.

Life as usual was disrupted by the phreatic explosion at Taal Volcano's main crater on Sunday afternoon that saw the Philiippine Institute of Seismology and Volcanology go through Alert Levels 2 through 4 as the magmatic unrest continued to worsen. 

Phivolcs said Monday that Alert Level 4 will be up over Taal Volcano due to magmatic eruption and lava fountaining past 2 a.m. on Monday, adding Alert Level 5 may be raised within the next few days.

Alert Level 5 (Hazardous Eruption Ongoing) would come with an eruption column of up to 15 kilometers high and could bring a base surge, which Phivolcs describes as thick smoke and ash that could travel across the surface of Taal Lake. 

Phivolcs said a volcanic tsunami is possible in case of an eruption.

Alert level may be downgraded if activity becomes "less intense," Phivolcs says, adding it has Quick Response Teams deployed and observing the volcano.

Evacuation ongoing

According to the NDRRMC, a total of 966 families—7,742 people—were forced to take shelter in some 38 evacuation centers as Alert Status 4 was raised on Monday morning.

The Department of Social Welfare says there are 5,000 family food packs and sleeping kits on the way for distribution to the evacuation centers.

Around 300,000 people have been targeted for evacuation, NDRRMC told reporters in a text message. 

The fourth alert level of the state volcanology bureau indicates that a hazardous eruption is imminent. 

Thus, work in all government offices in Central Luzon, Calabarzon and NCR was declared suspended, while a total of 118 cities and municipalities declared class suspensions. 

The Office of the President also encouraged the private sector to suspend work operations for the day to ensure the safety of their employees. 

Air travel, too, was halted for the time being, as NDRRMC documented a total of 87 domestic and 109 international flights that were cancelled due to the volcanic ash from Taal Volcano. 

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