Philippine Navy preparing to assist in Taal evacuation
Taal's eruption continues. Photos courtesy of gmanetwork.com
Manila-- The Philippine Navy (PN) is readying 15 disaster response and rescue teams in Manila and Cavite for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in areas affected by the phreatic explosion of Taal Volcano in Batangas, according to the Philippine News Agency.
On Sunday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised Alert Level 4 over Taal Volcano, which means “hazardous eruption is possible within days.”
"The public is reminded that the main crater should be strictly off limits because sudden steam explosions can occur and high concentrations of lethal volcanic gases can be released," Phivolcs said. "In addition, communities around the Taal Lakeshore are advised to take precautionary measures and be vigilant of possible lake-water disturbances related to the ongoing unrest."
United Airlines made the following announcement on Guam: “UA183 GUM-MNL and UA184 MNL-GUM on Jan.12 were cancelled due to the Taal Volcano eruption. We continue to monitor the situation and protect the affected customers with the first available flights United is closely monitoring the situation and will keep its customers and the media posted on any related flight schedule changes."
Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas, the Navy's public affairs office chief, said the teams are ready to be deployed anytime. "(The) said teams have (their) own HADR capabilities. There are at least 16 transportation assets that can be utilized such as M-35, DRRT trailers and amphibian trucks to support our personnel and help evacuate people in the affected area," she said in a statement late Sunday.
Roxas said the Fleet-Marine Ready Force would be in charge of the operation in support of the military's disaster relief efforts.
"We are in constant coordination with the higher headquarters through AFPCC (Command Center) Meanwhile, a battle staff was convened this evening (Sunday) in the Navy's headquarters (Naval Station Jose Andrada, Roxas Boulevard, Manila) to monitor the situation," she told PNA.
"As of 5:30 p.m. PST (1730H), eruptive activity at Taal Volcano Main Crater intensified as continuous eruption generated a tall 10-15 kilometer [32,808-49,212 foot] steam-laden tephra column with frequent volcanic lightning that rained wet ashfall on the general north as far as Quezon City," Phivolcs said in a statement. They added that two volcanic earthquakes of magnitudes 2.5 and 3.9 were felt in Tagaytay City and Alitagtag, Batangas.
As of 5 a.m., a total of 75 volcanic earthquakes have also been recorded in Taal, according to GMA News network.
Ashfall was reported in Metro Manila, located about 101 km (63 miles) north of the volcano, on Sunday evening, according to CNN Philippines.
"Southerly winds are helping to carry volcanic north across northern Luzon," stated AccuWeather Meteorologist Maura Kelly. "Winds across the northern Philippines are forecast to turn out of the northeast throughout the day on Monday, which can help to gradually direct the ash plume out over the South China Sea and away from Manila."
Due to the eruption, all flights, both arrival and departures, at Ninoy Aquino International Airport are now on hold. Passengers are advised to coordinate with their respective airlines for flight updates.