Phivolcs records 39 volcanic quakes in Taal

Romina Cabrera - The Philippine Star
Phivolcs records 39 volcanic quakes in Taal
This aerial photograph taken on June 24, 2021 shows the Taal volcano crater.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Thirty-nine volcanic earthquakes have been recorded around Taal Volcano in the past 24 hours, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

Phivolcs said that of the quakes, two were volcanic tremors with durations of three to five minutes, 35 low frequency volcanic temblors and two hybrid earthquakes.

Meanwhile, sulfur dioxide emission averaged 5,299 tons per day that came with steam-rich plumes rising as high as 3,000 meters, state seismologists said.

Sulfur dioxide emissions reached a new record high of 22,268 tons on Sunday, prompting Phivolcs to warn that these parameters indicated an eruption similar to the one that occurred three days before.

The phreatomagmatic eruption last week triggered the raising of the alert status over Taal to Level 3 or magmatic unrest, and prompted mandatory evacuation of thousands of residents in high-risk areas in the municipalities of Laurel and Agoncillo.

Alert Level 3 means the magma extruding from the main crater can drive explosive eruption, hazardous pyroclastic density currents and volcanic tsunami.

Any activity in Taal Lake has been prohibited, with communities around the shore advised to remain vigilant and take precautionary measures against airborne ash and vog.

Proposed assistance

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has proposed an initial P282 million in immediate assistance should Taal Volcano erupt again.

As a proactive measure, agriculture chief William Dar said the government has laid out action plans and strategies for the agriculture sector in lakeshore areas and adjoining barangays that may be affected.

The amount will be spent on social and environmental assessment, water quality monitoring and analysis and food safety assurance.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) estimated that 6,375 fish cages for milkfish and tilapia may be directly affected by the eruption.

For rehabilitation and recovery strategies, the DA and BFAR will allot technology and livelihood assistance, install a real time water quality monitoring system, rehabilitate production facilities in Batangas and provide technical assistance for fisherfolk and fish cage operators in accessing loans.

Some 109 metric tons of bangus and tilapia were lost due to the fish kill in Taal Lake, but authorities ruled out that the continuous unrest of Taal Volcano is to blame.

At a briefing yesterday, the BFAR said the fish kill resulted in losses amounting to P9 million and affected six operators of 18 fish cages.

BFAR Calabarzon regional director Sammy Malvas said the water quality monitoring and sampling showed a very low level of dissolved oxygen in Tanauan and Talisay towns.

But even with Taal Volcano’s continued unrest, Malvas said the sulfur dioxide emission has no direct relation to the latest fish kill.

“The direct connect is on the level of ammonia which is a result of bacterial activities that consume the dissolved oxygen,” Malvas said.

Housing units

The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), through its key shelter agency National Housing Authority (NHA), is readying close to 1,000 housing units for families displaced by the Taal eruption.

DHSUD Secretary Eduardo del Rosario said that there are 950 housing units in the towns of Sariaya and Tiaong, both in Quezon province, being offered by the NHA for those needing shelter.

“These housing units are readily available to serve as temporary or permanent shelters for those affected by the Taal Volcano eruption,” Del Rosario said.

He said the Social Housing Finance Corp., another attached agency of DHSUD, will assist families within affected areas through its Community Mortgage Program.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) activated its disaster response teams for Taal Volcano operation.

DPWH Secretary Mark Villar said a total of 826 personnel with 107 equipment are prepositioned around the volcano in case another eruption happens.

“As a response to the recent Taal Volcano activity, we have prepared an action plan for pre, during and post-disaster response. Under our action plan, our quick response teams will be clustered into six command centers strategically located around the volcano to make our response operations efficient,” Villar said.

The command centers are located in DPWH Batangas district engineering offices in Balayan town, Batangas City and Lipa as well as in Cavite DEOs in Alfonzo and Carmona.

Meanwhile, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian reminded the departments of health, social welfare and development (DSWD) and local government units to ensure the welfare and safety of children in evacuation centers as Taal Volcano threatens communities around it. – Louise Maureen Simeon, Rhodina Villanueva, Jose Rodel Clapano, Paolo Romero

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