Families evacuated from the vicinity of the Taal volcano rest in the La Consolacion College gymnasium evacuation centre in Tanauan on Jan. 17, 2020. The threat of the Philippines' Taal volcano unleashing a potentially catastrophic eruption remains high, authorities warned on January 16, saying it was showing dangerous signs despite a "lull" in spewing ash.
AFP/Ed Jones
Taal Volcano evacuees rise to over 160,000
Arnell Ozaeta (Philstar.com) - January 18, 2020 - 4:25pm

BATANGAS, Philippines (Update 4, Jan. 19, 2020 at 10:43 a.m.) — More than 160,000 individuals were already scattered in evacuation centers in Batangas, Cavite and Quezon Province after Sunday's Taal Volcano eruption. 

Based on the 11 a.m. record of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council Saturday, 37,355 families or 162,728 individuals were already staying in evacuation centers. 

The number of affected families ballooned after the implementation of the lockdown in Agoncillo, Alitagtag, Balete, Cuenca, Laurel, Lemery, Malvar, San Nicolas, Sta. Teresita, Taal, Talisay, parts of Lipa City, Mataas na kahoy and Tanauan City. 

With this development, PDRRMC Chairman and Batangas Gov. Dodo Mandanas ordered all concerned agencies to provide all the needs of the evacuees.

"Kapag humingi ng kailangan ay agad na ibigay ito at huwag nang padaanin pa sa interview dahil sa dinaranas na hirap ng mga ito (If the evacuees ask for help, respond to them right away. Don't wait for interviews, they went through a lot)," Mandanas said. 

The actual number of evacuees, however, is believed to be far higher as there were residents who went to their relatives and friends instead of the evacuation centers, he added.

Meanwhile, Mandanas reminded his Batangueño constituents to follow the instructions of the authorities on the ground, especially those implementing lockdown in their respective towns. 

"Huwag na kayong matigas ang ulo, sumunod na lang sa mga otoridad para maiwasan ang disgrasya (Please don't be hard-headed. Follow the authorities to prevent further disasters)," he said. 

As of this writing, there are no casualties yet as far as the volcano eruption is concerned, Mandanas added. 

"There were five fatalities, three from vehicular accident during relief operation and two from cardiac arrest in evacuation area," he said.

Alert Level 4 still remains in effect over Taal Volcano. This means that a hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. 

Phivolcs strongly reiterates total evacuation from Taal Volcano Island and high-risk areas as identified in the hazard maps.

The receding of Taal Lake water, meanwhile, has been observed in Talisay, Laurel, Alitagtag and Lemery. 

Pansipit River subsided and silted while fissuring has been observed in Lemery, Agoncillo, Talisay and San Nicolas. 

Taal Volcano was placed under Alert Level 1 last March 2019 until it was heightened to Alert Level 2 last January 12 when it started spewing smoke and ash around 2:30 p.m. 

After an hour and a half, Phivolcs declared Alert Level 3 and Alert Level 4 at 7:30 p.m.

Last January 13, Batangas was placed under a state of calamity through a resolution by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

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