Tanauan villages within 14-km Taal danger zone placed on total lockdown

Robie de Guzman
A cat sits outside a gate in Tanauan, Batangas, Philippines, 17 January 2020. EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO

MANILA, Philippines – The local government of Tanauan City in Batangas has placed under total lockdown some of its villages that are within the 14-kilometer permanent danger zone of Taal Volcano.

In a report by correspondent Vincent Arboleda on Ito ang Balita on Wednesday, the city government opted to lockdown 21 barangays near Taal Volcano due to the danger of its continued activities.

The total lockdown was implemented after local authorities withdrew the window hours, which allowed residents to enter their villages to check on their homes for several hours ever since Taal Volcano belched smoke and ash plumes on January 12.

Local officials explained they opted to totally bar residents from going back to their villages to protect them from Taal’s possible big explosion.

Taal Volcano remains under alert level 4, which means a hazardous eruption may occur within hours or days.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) earlier warned that in case of a hazardous eruption, a deadly and devastating base surge from the crater could happen and reach the towns around Taal lake.

Local authorities added that the removal of window hours was based on the recommendation of Phivolcs and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Under total lockdown, authorities set up eight staging stations to ensure that no residents will be able to slip back to their homes in 21 villages.

“Dito po pupwesto ‘yung ating mga quick response team. Kasi nga po, at any rate na mag-increase pa ‘yung alert level ng ating bulkan,” Tanauan City Information Officer Ma. Teresia Bunio said.

“Maraming purpose po ‘yan kung saka-sakali po na may mga maiiwan pa doon na mamamataan po nila,” she added.

Checkpoints and barricades were also placed to prevent residents from going in.

Around 75,224 individuals were living in the 21 villages on lockdown.

Most of them are staying in 35 evacuation centers, while others opted to live with their relatives in Laguna and Batangas which were not affected by the Taal Volcano unrest.

“We are just waiting on the go signal ng Phivolcs that it is really safe to let them be back on their places,” Bunio said. – RRD

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