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Philippines: Taal Volcano - Jan 2020

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On 12 January around 21:00 UTC, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology recorded increased volcanic activities generating an eruption plume one kilometre-high accompanied by volcanic tremor and felt earthquakes in Volcano Island and barangays of Agoncillo, in the province of Batangas. The government raised the alert status to Level 3 after the volcano spewed ash in a phreatic eruption. Residents from at least three municipalities of the province of Batangas were evacuated. The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila put on hold all departing and arriving flights due to ash fall. (ECHO, 12 Jan 2020)

On 12 January, alert level-4 (hazardous eruption imminent) was raised over Taal Volcano located in the CALABARZON region 70 km south of the capital Manila. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) raised the alert level a few hours after it raised the alert to level-3 on the evening of 12 January. According to PHIVOLCS, Taal Volcano entered a period of unrest beginning with phreatic or steam-driven activity in several points inside the main crater that then progressed into a magmatic eruption at 2:49 a.m. local time on 13 January. This magmatic eruption is characterized by weak lava fountaining accompanied by thunder and flashes of lightning. Seismic activity was also recorded in Tagaytay City, Cabuyao, Laguna, Talisay, Alitagtag, Lemery and Bauan, Batangas, with over 75 volcanic earthquakes felt at an intensity ranging from II to V as of 5 a,m. that morning. These developments signify likely continuous magmatic intrusion beneath the volcano, which may lead to further eruptive activity. (OCHA, 13 Jan 2020)

As of 15 January, a total of 423 volcanic earthquakes were recorded in Taal region. Of which, 137 were felt, ranging from Magnitude 1.2 - 4.1 and Intensity of I - V. About 44,000 people have been affected, of which at least 40,000 are taking temporary shelter in 189 evacuation centers. If the eruption column remains at 3 km or below, the ash plumes will be drifted to the municipalities southwest of Taal Volcano. However, if a major eruption occurs and the column exceeds 3 km, ash plumes will be drifted over south-eastern portion of Batangas and some municipalities of Quezon, Mindoro, and Marinduque. (Govt. of the Philippines, 15 Jan 2020)

Over the past 24 hours, Taal volcano erupted an ash plume up to 800 meters high. The ash dispersed southwest of the Main Crater but the activity is slightly weakening. A total of 566 volcanic earthquakes have been registered since 12 January. According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), more than 53,000 people have been sheltered in 244 evacuation centres located in the Provinces of Cavite and Batangas and more than 65,000 have been affected. The alert Level 4 remains in effect as well as the mandatory evacuation order for people living in a radius of 14 km from the Main Crater. (ECHO, 16 Jan 2020)

The Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOCS) warned that another eruption may take place within the next few days, especially as there have been more than 30 volcanic earthquakes in the last 24 hours. The Batangas Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management office (PDRRMO) has now put almost 15 areas in lockdown status. More than 10 municipalities are in total lockdown, affecting an estimated total of over 502,500 people. The Department of Education (DepEd) reports that an estimated 73,000 school age children have been displaced and almost 80 schools have been abandoned. Aside from a growing need for food, water, fresh clothes, and sleeping mats, the IDPs are also starting to suffer from anxiety and depression. (ECHO, 18 Jan 2020).

As of 20 January, about 259,000 people were affected by the Taal Volcano phreatic eruption. Of which 146,992 were taking temporary shelter in 489 evacuation centers and 70,216 persons stayed with their relatives and/or friends or in open spaces. (Govt. of the Philippines, 20 Jan 2020)

Figures continue to climb as official warnings states that another hazardous eruption is possible within the next few days. Around 271,000 have been affected by the Taal Volcano eruption, with approximately 148,500 people staying throughout almost 500 evacuation centres. An estimated 63 million USD worth of damage has accrued against Filopino agriculture due to the eruption. (OCHA, 21 Jan 2020)

As of 24 January, 346,000 people have been affected by the Taal Volcano eruption. Approximately 137,500 people are currently staying throughout almost 490 evacuation centres. An estimated 145,000 people are being serviced outside of these evacuation centres. Approximately $63 million USD worth of damage has impacted on the Filopino agricultural sector, while almost 80 schools have been abandoned due to the eruption. Volcanic earthquakes continue in the region, with an average of six quakes occurring per day, between 21 and 24 January. (OCHA, 24 Jan 2020)

Taal volcano continues to emit white steam-laden plumes of 50-800 meters high drifting north-east and has seen 170 volcanic earthquakes and 4 low-frequency earthquakes in the last 24 hours, as of 27 January. Almost 395,000 people have been affected by the eruption, with nearly 137,500 displaced across more than 530 evacuation centres. Over 170,650 are taking shelter with relatives. The Batangas provincial government reported around 22,000 damaged houses, with more expected given ongoing assessments. (ECHO, 27 Jan 2020)

As of 30 January, almost 67,000 people are sheltered in 415 evacuation centres, while approximately 225,400 people have been displaced in other areas. Overall, more than 464,700 people have been affected by the eruption. €750,000 in emergency humanitarian funding has been released by DG ECHO to assist those affected. Taal Volcano may erupt in the coming days as seismic activity suggests magma is flowing into the volcano. An Alert Level 3 is in effect signalling a possible eruption within weeks. (ECHO, 30 Jan 2020

Taal volcano activity in the past 24 hours has been characterized by weak emission of white steam-laden plumes 50 to 100 meters tall that drifted southwest. DOST-PHIVOLCS recommended that entry into the Taal Volcano Island as well as into areas over Taal Lake and communities west of the island within a seven 7 km radius from the Main Crater must be strictly prohibited. As of 2 February, at least 25,000 locals continue to take shelter in 170 temporary evacuation centers in the region, while an estimated 226,000 have taken shelter with friends and/or relatives. (Govt. of the Philippines, 2 Feb 2020)

Taal Volcano remains under Alert Level 3 since 26 January. There were 18 harmonic tremors, or prolonged volcanic earthquakes linked to the movement of magma, recorded in the past 24 hours. Areas in Batangas within a 7-kilometre radius from Taal's main crater are still on lockdown. These include Taal Volcano Island, barangays of Bilibinwang, Subic Ilaya, Banyaga in Agoncillo, barangays of Gulod, Buso-Buso, and Bugaan East in Laurel. At least 129,171 families or 483,389 people have been affected in Batangas, Quezon, Laguna, and Cavite. There are 5,953 families or 20,927 people staying in evacuation centres and 55,036 families or 200,912 persons displaced in host families. (ECHO, 5 Feb 2020)

Nearly a month after the Taal Volcano eruption, over 235,000 people continue to be displaced, with a majority staying with host families and more than 24,000 people in evacuation centres in the Calabarzon region. While authorities continue to validate the extent of damage, it is becoming clear that heavy ashfall and frequent earthquakes during the eruption damaged over 2,300 houses in Batangas province and caused an estimated US$66.7 million worth of damage to infrastructure to agriculture. The Government is planning to relocate an estimated 5,000 families (25,000 people) from at-risk areas within the 7-km radius of the volcano’s crater which has been identified as a permanent danger zone. Alert-level 3 (out of 5) remains in effect over the volcano and sudden steam-driven and even weak phreatomagmatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, ashfall, and lethal volcanic gas expulsions can still occur and threaten nearby areas. (OCHA, 11 Feb 2020)

As of 11 February, at least 505,000 people were affected by the Taal Volcano eruption in Batangas, Quezon, Laguna, and Cavite provinces. Over 17,088 people are taking temporary shelter in 110 evacuation centers while 211,729 people are currently staying with their relatives and/or friends, or in open spaces. (Govt. of the Philippines, 11 Feb 2020)

As of 17 February, alert level 2 is maintained over Taal Volcano. Sudden steam-driven or phreatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, ashfall and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas can occur and threaten areas within Taal Volcano Island (TVI) and along its coast. At least 584,000 people have been affected in Batangas, Quezon, Laguna, and Cavite. There are over 6,100 people staying in evacuation centers, and at least 194,000 people are served outside the evacuation centers. (Govt. of the Philippines, 17 Feb 2020)

As of 28 February, approximately 196,000 people are still displaced, of which 4,549 people are taking shelter in 13 evacuation centers in Batangas and Quezon provinces. Alert Level for Taal Volcano remains at Level 2. (Govt. of the Philippines, 28 Feb 2020)

As of 12 March, at least 846,000 people were affected by the Taal Volcano eruption in Batangas, Quezon, Laguna, and Cavite provinces. Over 4,000 people are taking temporary shelter in 10 evacuation centers while more than 11,000 people are staying with their relatives and/or friends, or in open spaces. (Govt. of the Philippines, 13 Mar 2020)