Taal Update: Duterte orders agencies to move residents out of danger zone

Marje Pelayo   •   January 13, 2020   •   805

Villagers evacuate during Taal Volcano’s eruption in Talisay, Batangas, Philippines, 12 January 2020. Thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate as authorities in the Philippines raised the alert due to increased activity of Taal volcano, located on an island near Manila. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) raised the alert level from 1 to 3 – on a scale of 5 – after an increase in activity in the crater resulted in an eruption spewing steam and ash up to one-kilometer-high. EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered agencies to immediately move residents away from the danger zone near Taal volcano.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo assured the public that the national government is working closely with concerned agencies on the ground to ensure the safety of the affected residents.

“Concerned agencies of the national government are now working closely with the Provincial Government of Batangas to ensure the safety of the residents, including their evacuation,” Panelo said in a statement.

“We advise the public to continue to remain vigilant,” he concluded.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) on Sunday (January 13) raised alert status of Taal Volcano to Level 4 prompting evacuations in several towns near the volcano island.

Classes in all levels in public and private schools in Metro Manila as well as in several nearby provinces were also suspended due to the ashfall.

The Palace has also ordered suspension of work in all government offices while it urged the private sector to do so to keep the public safe from the health dangers of inhaling volcanic ash. – MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

Phivolcs sees geohazard, flooding risks in Bulacan Airport

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 25, 2020

The project site of the proposed New Manila International Airport in Bulacan has geohazard risks, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

The multi-billion airport is sitting on soft ground and its location is prone to frequent flooding, according to Phivolcs Usec. Renato Solidum.

“Just to be very specific on the facts is that it is far away from the fault. But since it’s underlain by sand with a shallow water table, it’s prone to strong ground shaking and liquefaction,” he said.

Solidum said they conducted an assessment to ensure the safety of the community as well as to protect investments. He recommended making buildings and infrastructure resilient to hazards.

“Dapat iyong building mo ay maayos ang disenyo na maging stable siya habang lumilindol at hindi siya tumagilid. Or pwede mo ring patibayan ang lupa. Bawasan mo iyong tubig, palitan mo iyong lupa, (The building should have a proper design for it to be stable during earthquakes. The ground can also be strengthen by reducing its water content or replacing the soil),” he added.

Meanwhile, San Miguel Holdings Corporation (SMC) said they have been taking into account the risks in designing the P740 billion domestic and international airport in Bulacan. The SMC also assured they have studied the project, including its feasibility, and all possible risks.

“The airport’s design fully takes this into account and we have actually started implementing sustainable measures to address flooding in Bulacan that has existed for several decades and has been made worse by clogged waterways and drainages,” according to SMC.

The corporation also tapped three major global airport construction firms to ensure the airport is resilient, sustainable, and will provide the best benefits for all Filipinos. AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

Magnitude 6.4 rocks Davao Occidental

Maris Federez   •   September 7, 2020

A magnitude 6.4 earthquake shook Davao Occidental at around 11:23 in the evening of Sunday, Sept. 6.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the tremor was located east of Don Marcelino in Davao Occidental with a depth of 149 kilometers.

The quake was tectonic in origin.

Phivolcs is yet to report initial damage, although it warned of aftershocks in the affected areas. —/mbmf

PHIVOLCS reminds public to prepare for potential hazards amid COVID-19 pandemic

Marje Pelayo   •   July 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Earthquake drills have been suspended since the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) occupied the government in the past months. 

The National Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) acknowledges the risk of COVID-19 transmission if people engage in drills.

“Delikado pa kasi iyan ngayong may pandemya pa, (That is risky given that we are in the midst of a pandemic),” explained the agency’s spokesperson Mark Timbal.

Timbal said they can still resume as soon as a vaccine for COVID-19 is discovered.

“I believe that we will resume the drills once both an effective treatment program as well as an immunization/vaccine is already available,” he added.

Despite the suspension of the drills, the agency said the public gets the information it needs through the local government units through constant information campaigns about disasters and diseases, specifically health protocols in evacuation centers, wearing face mask, using personal protective equipment and practicing social distancing.

The NDRRMC also conducts online training for that matter. 

But for the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), it is still important to always prepare for potential disasters like earthquakes, typhoons and serious floodings even in the midst of a pandemic.

Science and Technology Undersecretary and PHIVOLCS OIC Renator Solidum assured that the agency is constantly conducting online seminars among LGUs and assessing the possible impact of disasters like earthquakes in their respective areas.

PHIVOLCS encourages every member of the family to discuss preparations amongst themselves as to what they will do in case of a serious earthquake like where they could possibly go to be safe. 

Each family also needs to have an emergency kit in place complete with face masks, alcohol or sanitizer.

In the past many large scale disasters minsan merong mga natataong mga pandemic. Mahirap iyon kung hindi handa sa pareho, [In the past, there were large scale disasters that happened along with a pandemic. It’s difficult to be in both situations unprepared,]” Solidum explained.

“We should prepared for both, not only for COVID-19 but also other possible large-scale hazards,” he added.

PHIVOLCS has created applications which can be checked for potential hazards in a specific area and these applications can be accessed through the Georisk Philippines website. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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