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Taal explosive eruption still not ruled out

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PHILSTAR/MIGUEL ANTONIO DE GUZMAN

TAAL Volcano could still erupt explosively as magma rises from its bottom, even if its most recent eruptions seemed weaker, the country’s chief seismologist said on Wednesday.

Residents should stay out of the volcano’s 14-kilometer danger zone until the alert level, now at 4, is lowered, Renato U. Solidum, Jr., director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, said at a briefing streamed live on Facebook.

“Generally, eruptions in the past days have been weaker,” Mr. Solidum said in Filipino, but clarified that this was not a trend.

“It’s still possible that more magma will come up and when that happens very fast, there could be an explosive eruption,” he added.

The Philippines lies in the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a belt of volcanoes around the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquakes strike.

Taal Volcano’s activity “has been characterized by continuous but generally weaker eruption of the Main Crater due to magmatic and hydrovolcanic processes,” the agency said in its 8 a.m. report on Wednesday.

The agency has detected 466 volcanic earthquakes since Jan. 12, 156 of which were felt with intensities ranging from 1 to 5.

“Such intense seismic activity probably signifies continuous magmatic intrusion beneath the Taal edifice, which may lead to further eruptive activity” it said.

Alert Level 4 remained hoisted, which means that “hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Solidum belied allegations about the lack of information dissemination about the volcano, noting that they had been issuing notices about its activity since last year.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio F. Barzaga, Jr. has filed a resolution asking the House of Representatives to investigate if Phivolcs had given enough warning to residents.

Also on Wednesday, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani T. Zarate renewed his call to pass a bill that he filed seeking to build evacuation centers for victims of natural calamities.

He said permanent evacuation centers that are typhoon-, earthquake- and disaster-resistant are needed — not just basketball courts and schools — to ensure the safety of victims.

These centers will also have a stockpile of relief goods as proposed by his bill, Mr. Zarate said.

Under the bill, a permanent evacuation center will be located at the center of every two or three contiguous villages that can accommodate the population of the communities.

“We can save lives by ensuring that sturdy and disaster-resilient, climate change-adaptive evacuation centers are located at a distance safe from waters and landslide-prone areas in every two to three contiguous barangays,” Mr. Zarate said. — Genshen L. Espedido





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