Philippines: Taal Volcano Eruption – Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF n° MDRPH043
On 1 July 2021, the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) raised an Alert Level from 2 to 3 (out of 5) after increasing activity of Taal Volcano, which is located on the island of Luzon in Batangas, CALABARZON (Region IV-A). An Alert Level 3 means that there is magma extruding from the main crater that could drive explosive eruption.
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Taal Volcano is situated on Volcano Island and is listed as a Permanent Danger Zone, with permanent settlement on the island not recommended, however, approximately 53,697 people (10,131 families) and CHF 129 millions of infrastructure are within 10 kilometre radius and 2.81 million people within 30 kilometre distance (AHA Centre). Taal Volcano is among the most active volcanoes in the Philippines, with more than 30 reported eruptions. Last time Taal Volcano erupted in early January 2020 affecting more than 736,000 people in CALABARZON (Region IV-A), Central Luzon (Region III) and National Capital Region (NCR), and leading to an evacuation of more than 135,000 people, damage to infrastructure and livelihoods, and disruption of essential services, such as water supply and education.
An Alert Level 2 has been raised over Taal Volcano since 9 March 2021 due to increasing unrest, and the low-level background tremor has persisted since 8 April 2021. Taal Volcano Network has continued to record volcanic earthquakes and recently volcanic sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas emissions and steam-rich plumes rising up to 3,000 meters. On 28 June 2021, sulfur dioxide emission averaged at an all-time high of 14,326 tonnes/day and volcanic smog has been observed over the CALABARZON, the National Capital Region, and other parts of Luzon.
Sulfur dioxide gas emissions remain high, indicating that magma at the Taal Volcano is at a shallow level. Exposure to volcanic smog can irritate eyes, throat, and respiratory tract. People with pre-existing health conditions, the elderly, pregnant women, and children are the most vulnerable to its effects.
According to PHIVOLCS, at 3:16 PM local time on 1 July 2021, Taal Volcano main crater generated a short-lived dark phreatomagmatic plume of magma and water, 1 kilometre-high with no accompanying volcanic earthquake at the time.
Furthermore, short phreatomagmatic bursts and active upwelling of hot volcanic fluids at Taal Volcano were recorded on 2 July. If a strong eruption occurs, there could be pyroclastic density currents, which are clouds of hot gas, ash, and other volcanic debris. A volcanic tsunami is also possible since Taal Volcano is situated within Taal Lake.
PHIVOLCS has strongly advised that the Taal Volcano Island and high-risk barangays of Agoncillo and Laurel, Batangas are to be evacuated due to the possible hazards of pyroclastic density currents and volcanic tsunami. Entry into the island as well as high-risk barangays of Agoncillo and Laurel is prohibited. In addition, communities around the Taal Lake shore are advised to take precautionary measures and be vigilant of possible lake water disturbances related to the ongoing unrest. As of 1 July, residents from barangays inside the seven-kilometre danger zone are being evacuated.