Police, military imposing lockdown in Taal’s 14-km danger zone

Published January 16, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Aaron Recuenco

BATANGAS CITY – Police and military forces are imposing a lockdown on several areas in Batangas as authorities rush to clear the 14-kilometer radius danger zone which is described as the striking distance of the feared lateral eruption of Taal Volcano.

Members of the second Police Batangas Mobile Force Company refrain the people of the Brgy Pusopuso laurel in Batangas  entering the place due to threat of a huge eruption of Taal Volcano(photo by ali vicoy)
Members of the second Police Batangas Mobile Force Company refrain the people of Brgy Pusopuso Laurel in Batangas entering the place due to threat of a huge eruption of Taal Volcano (Photo by Ali Vicoy)

As of Thursday, the towns of Agoncillo, Laurel, and Talisay are in a total lockdown which means that not a single person, especially local residents, is allowed to enter the three municipalities, currently the hardest hit by the ash ejections from the volcano.

Col. Edwin Quilates, director of the Batangas Provincial Police, said they have already deployed significant number of policemen in entry and exit points of the three towns to ensure that no one would dare to enter the towns.

The policemen are augmented by military forces in securing the mainland areas close to Taal Volcano while a number of Philippine Coast Guard personnel were also deployed to patrol the shoreline of the Taal Lake.

Aside from the three towns, authorities are targeting the total evacuation of residents in the town of Balete. Eleven barangays in Balete town were already cleared of local residents, while two more barangays are being cleared.

Police and military forces are also evacuating people from 21 barangays of Tanauan City, and some barangays of Malvar, Lipa, and Cuenca which are close to the rumbling Taal Volcano.

“The instruction to us is to prevent residents from going back. All people inside these areas should be going out, not going in because of the danger once a major eruption occurs,” said Quilates.

Taal Volcano is currently under Alert Level 4, which means an imminent hazardous eruption would likely to occur anytime. The next and last alert level is Alert Level 5 which means a hazardous eruption is ongoing.

Volcanologists are particularly wary of the characteristics of Taal Volcano, saying it is not similar to other regular volcanos where the emission of magma and pyroclastic materials usually come out from a single crater.

The Taal Volcano is believed to have more or less 30 craters aside from the main crater where tons of ash are currently ejected. Taal Volcano has a history of lateral eruption wherein the hot gases and other pyroclastic materials are ejected vertically and travels between 60 to 80 kilometers per hour.

The lateral eruptions in the past reached the areas within the current 14-kilometer danger zone – so-called striking distance of a lateral eruption.

“This is the reason we are trying to clear these areas of people because of the danger of the possibility of this scenario. We are evacuating these areas because we want to make sure that if a major eruption occurs, we are confident that there would be no people within the danger zone,” said Joselito Castro, head of the Batangas Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO).

Castro said that aside from the 14-kilometer danger zone, they also decided to add an additional one-kilometer radius which he describes as a buffer zone.

Their goal, according to Castro, is also to clear the one-kilometer buffer zone.

Rising

Officials said the number of evacuees is quickly rising since the first eruption occurred on Sunday.

Based on the latest PDRRMO data, a total of 27,312 families, or 125,107 people, are being housed in 373 evacuation centers.

Castro said the evacuee figures include those being housed in evacuation centers outside Batangas province – Calamba City and Tagaytay City.

“We also have more or less 6,000 evacuees in several evacuation centers in Quezon province,” said Castro.

Damage

The PDRRMO data states that there are no damaged houses reported as of Thursday although there were already reports from the police about houses that collapsed due to thick ash that covered the roof.

But in agriculture, the initial assessment disclosed that the damage has already reached P548 million.

 
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