Philippines: Taal Volcano Eruption – Final Report (n° MDRPH043)
A. SITUATION ANALYSIS
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Description of the disaster
After a year from the previous eruption of Taal Volcano, its main crater generated a short-lived phreatomagmatic plume one kilometre high with no accompanying volcanic earthquake on 1 July 2021. The Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (DOST-PHIVOLCS) consequently, raised the Alert Level from 2 to 3 (out of 5). An Alert Level 3 refers to magma extruding from the main crater, which could drive explosive eruption.
Taal Volcano is located about 50 kilometres south of the capital city Manila, in Batangas, CALABARZON (Region IV-A) on a smaller 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.
Since 9 March 2021, Taal Volcano was on Alert Level 2 due to increasing unrest. After the phreatomagmatic plume on 1 July, Taal Volcano Network continued to record volcanic earthquakes, Sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas emissions and steam-rich plumes from the main crater. Sulfur dioxide emissions averaged at an all-time high and volcanic smog was observed over the CALABARZON, the National Capital Region and other parts of Luzon. 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.
Due to the situation, 6,262 families (22,433 people) were displaced in 131 barangays in CALABARZON reported by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center (DROMIC) terminal report. Out of the families displaced, 1,655 families (5,865 people) took temporary shelter in 29 evacuation centres, and others stayed with their relatives and/or friends temporarily. Furthermore, peoples’ livelihoods such as farming, livestock, fishing and tourism were affected.
After a three-week-period on Alert Level 3, the alert status of Taal Volcano was downgraded to Alert Level 2 (Decreased Unrest) on 26 July 2021. DOST-PHIVOLCS reminded the public that at Alert Level 2, sudden steam- or gas-driven explosions, volcanic earthquakes, minor ashfall, and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas could occur and threaten areas within and around Taal Volcano Island (TVI). DOST-PHIVOLCS strongly recommended that entry must be strictly prohibited into Taal Volcano Island, Taal’s Permanent Danger Zone, especially the vicinities of the Main Crater and the Daang Kastila fissure, and occupancy and boating on Taal Lake. Local government officials were advised to continuously assess and strengthen the preparedness of previously evacuated barangays around Taal Lake in case of renewed unrest.
As of October 2021, Taal Volcano remains at Alert Level 2 with reported volcanic tremor events, upwelling of hot volcanic fluids in its lake generating plumes and high levels of volcanic sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas emissions. DOST-PHIVOLCS is closely monitoring the activity and immediately reporting any new developments to all stakeholders.