THE NATION’S top seismologist on Monday warned of a sudden explosive eruption as gas continued to build up beneath Taal Volcano, one of the world’s smallest and deadliest.
“Compared with other volcanoes, there is much more gas and magma involved,” Renato U. Solidum, Jr., director of the local volcanology agency, said in Filipino at a briefing streamed on Facebook.
“People might think the eruption is easing but based on indicators of more gas, aside from earthquakes swelling of the volcano, and we can show that there is magma underneath,” he said. “That could cause a sudden explosion.”
Taal Volcano in Batangas province forced thousands of residents to flee after it emitted a thick ash column on Jan. 12. The ashfall covered cities near the capital, forcing financial markets to suspend trading and the Manila airport to close.
About 50,000 families in Batangas, Quezon, Laguna and Cavite had been affected by the eruption as of 6 a.m. yesterday, according to the local disaster agency’s report.
It said 26,767 families were taking temporary shelter in 408 evacuation centers while 17,391 families were being served outside the centers.
Meanwhile, at least P600 per family or P12 million a day for 60 days is needed to rehabilitate communities, Albay Rep.Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda said.
Out of the total, P500 will be used on food, and the rest will be used for the family’s health expenses.
Seismologists have recorded 714 volcanic earthquakes in the Taal region since Jan. 12, 176 of which were felt at intensities 1 to 5.
These earthquakes signified “continuous magmatic intrusion beneath the Taal edifice” that could lead to further eruptions, it said.
Also Monday, the Local Government department said police would force shops in Tagaytay, a popular upland resort city on a ridge that overlooks the picturesque Taal Volcano and its surrounding lake, to shut as the volcano continues to erupt.
Commercial activities within the 14-kilometer danger zone are prohibited, Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Epimaco V. Densing III told reporters.
This comes after reports that some businesses in Tagaytay continued operating amid the volcano’s unrest. — Genshen L. Espedido and Gillian M. Cortez