Over 30,000 flee to evacuation centers to escape Taal Volcano's fury

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 14) — More than 30,000 people have been evacuated as Taal Volcano continues to spew ash and smoke, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Tuesday.

In its latest update, the NDRRMC said 6,891 families, or 30,432 individuals, from Batangas and Cavite were affected by the eruption.

But Batangas Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office said 33,654 residents are currently staying in different evacuation centers.

It's unclear why they have a different data from the NDRRMC, but it usually takes some time for the national agency to validate reports from local disaster response offices.

Monilla said that evacuations took a while as there are still others who defy the order from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology to leave the danger zone, which is within a 14-kilometer radius from Taal Volcano’s main crater.

But he assured the uniformed men are doing their “best” to evacuate everyone in high-risk areas.

“Actually di kasi lahat sumunod sa advisory na magevacuate but when the situation worsened saka lang sila gumagalaw ... Nabagalan yung evacuation but we are doing our best to be able to evacuate everyone.”

[Translation: Actually, not everyone followed [Phivolcs’ advisory] to evacuate, but when the situation happened, that was the only time they heeded the advice. The evacuation got delayed.]

Government to evacuate animals

The OCD official said that they will also evacuate animals left behind in areas affected by Taal Volcano’s activity, but they did not specify when.

“We put premium talaga sa buhay ng tao, kaya inuuna po natin yung evacuation ng ating mga kababayan, then after that, ang next natin na-e-evacuate ay yung mga animals.”

[Translation: We put premium in people’s lives so we are prioritizing the evacuation of our fellowmen, then after that, the next ones that we will evacuate are the animals.]

Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum said Tuesday that they would not lift their evacuation orders as long as they could monitor earthquakes over Taal Volcano as the “threat” of a “hazardous explosion” is “real.”

He also said that once this violent eruption occurs, evacuees can no longer go back to their homes as those will be “devastated” by then.

Evacuees seek help

Raquel Amo, an evacuee from Taal, Batangas appealed for basic needs such as toothbrush, underwear and clothes. Other evacuees are asking for milk donations for babies, as well as baby and adult diapers.

The whole province of Batangas is under a state of calamity amid Taal’s continuous activity. 

Here is the list of relief efforts to help out the victims, most of whom came from areas surrounding Taal Volcano.

Apart from evacuations, the Department of Agriculture's Calabarzon regional office said damage to livestock and crops has reached ₱74.55 million as of Monday. 

Coffee is the most affected crop, incurring damage of at least ₱73.96 million.

One hundred two heads of livestock were also affected.

Apart from these losses, the DA added 6,000 fish cages could potentially be damaged "since fishkill is expected in Taal Lake, due to high sulfur content brought by the volcanic eruption, according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)."

Officials also warned some 15,033 metric tons of Tawilis, an endangered fish found only in Taal, could be at risk.

Alert Level 4 remains raised in Taal Volcano, after it showed a marked unrest Sunday afternoon, indicating of a "hazardous eruption within hours or days". The warning prompted authorities to suspend work and classes and shut down Manila's international airport. The Ninoy Aquino International Airport resumed operations as of Tuesday morning.

READ: PHIVOLCS warns of ‘hazardous explosive eruption’ of Taal Volcano soon