The Daily Manila Shimbun


Taal Volcano eruption-displaced families told to be “realistic,” not yet safe to return home

January 14, 2020

Families displaced by the Taal Voĺcano eruption should be "realistic" that it is not still safe to return to their homes and the danger of hazardous explosion is still there, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology ( Phivolcs) said on Tuesday.

In a press briefing in Malacañang, Department of Science and Technology Undersecretary and Phivolcs head Renato Solidum said the volcano's alert level is still at 4.

"Just think if (the eruption) continues at Alert Level 5, devastation," he said, noting that if one would be in the danger zone, he or she might find hard time to immediately go to a safer area.

"So, we should be realistic that this kind of activity is not a joke. We can go back to what happened in Pinatubo, just to give us some background of what happened before," he said referring to the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, killing hundreds of people and leaving around 200,000 people homeless.

Solidum said the situation at the volcano would not just subside overnight.

"So we have to make sure that people understand and of course the government, that this is not an activity that will just be in a short while. Even the lowering of the alert and the condition of the volcano will not be sudden," Solidum explained.

Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas said there were around 30,000 evacuees in the province.

He said the number could still increase and about 80 percent of the evacuees were staying in the houses of their relatives.

Mandanas could not say if those living in the island, a danger zone, could still be allowed to return or they would be relocated.

Meanwhile, Department of Health Assistant Secretary Maria Francia Laxamana said eating fish catch from the Taal Lake is now prohibited.

"So, definitely we have already the advisory not to buy (fish) from Taal and Batangas because we cannot expect that they are safe," she said.

As to the N95 masks, she said those living in Metro Manila and Central Luzon, which were affected also by ashfall, should not compete with the residents living near the volcano in purchasing the masks.

"The N95, it is really prescribed to (the residents) we have evacuated in areas within the 14-kilometer radius, so they are in the first line who should use N95," she said.

She said other people affected by ashfall, such as in Metro Manila and Region 3, could instead use regular surgical masks.

"That's why it's sad to say that we ran out of stocks, those who should be given N95 were the ones who were not able to get," she said. Celerina Monte/DMS