Writer: Lara G.
Visual: Izzie P.
Editor: Gisele F.
On Sunday, January 12, a phreatic eruption occurred in the Taal Volcano in Tagaytay, signalling a possible “hazardous eruption”. A phreatic eruption is what results from the magma heating up water and causing it to turn into steam. This then causes an eruption that consists of steam, water, ash, rock, and volcanic bombs. Wind carried the ashes north, ending up in Metro Manila, the CALABARZON Region, and some parts of the Central Luzon Region. Alert levels were at two by the end of the day.
The next day, Monday, January 13, fountains of lava began to stream out of the volcano. The Department of Transportation reported 286 cancelled flights due to volcanic ash. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) raised the alert level to level four from level three earlier that day. Most schools suspended classes and many companies and offices suspended work. There was some rainfall consequently leading to mudflow and the hardening of ash in certain areas.
Recently, PHIVOLCS has still kept the alert level at four, which means an “explosive eruption” is expected within the coming hours, days, and maybe even months. This is particularly concerning as the highest possible alert level is a five. Though there has been less volcanic activity, state volcanologists say this doesn’t mean that the level of danger is any lower.
The government has declared a state of calamity. Schools cancelled classes on Monday and Tuesday because of this hazardous event. Even if the volcano hasn’t fully erupted yet, ash has ended up all over cities in Metro Manila, Cavite, and Batangas. Many communities near the Taal volcano are being evacuated in order to prepare for the expected eruption. Animals are beginning to be evacuated from the area after some people left them behind.
Much of the problem emanates from the ashfall. Ash is a major part of the damage wrought by the Taal Volcano eruption. It is a nasal and respiratory irritant and the particles are also quite sharp, so it can do damage to your eyes as well. It also strips vegetation of leaves and is very heavy, so when it collects on rooftops the tendency is for it to collapse. Ash can also become a part of what is called a lahar, which is when rainfall occurs after ashfall and it appears like mudflow.
While the air quality in Metro Manila has improved, people who live close to Taal Volcano are still being evacuated and are staying in evacuation centers for the time being.