Taal Volcano Eruption: PHIVOLCS Hoists Alert Level 4, Flights Canceled, And Ashfall Reaches Metro Manila

Stay safe, everyone!
PHOTO: COURTESY OF BRENDA FERNANDEZ-HIPOLITO

At 1:00 p.m. of January 12, the picturesque Taal Volcano erupted, spewing ash into the air in what is called a phreatic eruption.

According to a report from Inquirer.net, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) said that the cause of Taal Volcano’s eruption is due to hydrothermal activities. PHIVOLCS Undersecretary Renato Solidum said in a phone interview that the eruption “generated a plume of ash around 100 meters high.” 

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Meanwhile, PHIVOLCS science research specialist Allan Loza said that a phreatic eruption is driven by steam that triggers a steam emission to reach the surface.

The report added that loud “booming sounds” were heard from the volcano island. In addition, hours prior to the eruption, PHIVOLCS recorded a series of earthquakes, with the strongest recorded at intensity 2 at 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.

In a 4:00 p.m. bulletin, PHIVOLCS raised the alert status of Taal Volcano from Alert Level 2 (increasing unrest) to  Alert Level 3 (magmatic unrest.)

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A later bulletin issued at 7:30 p.m. hoisted the alert status of the volcano to Alert Level 4 (hazardous eruption imminent.)

The latest bulletin stated that “hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.” PHIVOLCS also advised of “total evacuation of Taal Volcano Island due to high risk to pyroclastic density currents and volcanic tsunami within a 14-kilometer radius from Taal Main Crater.” In addition, the agency also warned that areas in the general north of Taal Volcano “are advised to guard against the effects of heavy and prolonged ashfall.”

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Canceled flights, ashfall reaches Metro Manila

Meanwhile, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport has put all arrivals and departures on hold in a 6:27 p.m bulletin posted on Twitter. Likewise, they have also suspended airport operations due to Taal Volcano’s eruption.

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The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) also announced that the phreatic eruption of Taal Volcano has reached Metro Manila, GMA News reported.

NDRMMC spokesperson Mark Timbal said that the ash fall is affecting cities in the southern portion of the National Capital Region. He said, “Ni-report din ng kasamahan natin na nakatira doon sa Muntinlupa, Las Piñas, may nakaabot din na balita na also in Parañaque and Taguig, may naka-experience na po ng ashfall.”

Here's what to do in an event of an ashfall

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) issued an advisory that warns people on how to deal with ashfall, GMA News reported. The DOH said, “volcanic ash consists of powder-size to sand-size particles that have been blown into the air by an erupting volcano.”

The DOH warned that exposure to ash could lead to health problems, especially for people who have bronchitis, emphysema or asthma.

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The DOH listed these effects of volcanic ash:

  • Nose and throat irritation
  • Coughing
  • Bronchitis-like illness
  • Discomfort while breathing
  • Eye irritation
  • Minor skin problems

To cope with the ashfall, the DOH advised to take the following precautionary measures:

  • Minimize exposure to ash
  • Stay indoors as much as possible
  • Keep doors and windows closed
  • Keep home from infiltration by using damp curtains, blankets or clothing
  • Use dust masks
  • Wear goggles or eyeglasses to protect eyes from irritation
  • Keep pets in closed shelter
  • Clear your roof of ash
  • Observe traffic notifications and road safety measure

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