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NDCC: DepEd Batangas moves classes away from Taal volcano

Amid the threat posed by heightened volcanic activity at Taal, education officials in Batangas province have ordered classes at the volcano island transferred to the mainland. The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said the Department of Education (DepEd) ordered classes at the volcano island transferred to Balete town in the mainland. “(DepEd Batangas) declared no classes at the volcano island. All classes are transferred to Balete mainland, (and the DepEd) declared all public schools open for use as evacuation center," NDCC said in a report posted Saturday on its website. Classes in public elementary and high schools are to start this coming Tuesday, June 15. As this developed, the NDCC confirmed that at least 40 families or 300 people had voluntarily evacuated the volcano island Thursday. saying that they are now staying with relatives. NDCC indicated it expects 5,440 people or 1,058 families evacuated from the volcano area, and 43,260 people or 1,313 families from along the lakeshore. It added there are 3,523 residents within the 3-km danger zone in Taal Volcano Island. Villages inside the seven-kilometer danger zone include two in San Nicolas town, six in Agoncillo, three in Balete, one in Laurel, three in Mataas na Kahoy, and one in Talisay. Last June 8, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology declared Alert Level 2 on Taal, citing heightened activity there. Meanwhile, other agencies also disclosed their preparations during an emergency meeting Thursday. These included:
  1. Three rubber boats deployed by the Batangas Coast Guard at Taal Lake plus motorized bancas, Philippine Coast Guard helicopters on call anytime, and two Special Operations Group teams deployed in Talisay.
  2. Air assets and medical facilities from the Philippine Air force (PAF).
  3. Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) Batangas Chapter with first aid and life support equipment on standby, with rescue teams ready for deployment.
  4. Provincial Social Welfare Development office in Batangas ready with P4.5 million worth of relief goods including food and non-food items, good for one week.
  5. A directive issued by the Provincial Tourism Office not allowing tourists to go to the island.
  6. Medicines, medical facilities, and medical teams for any emergency prepared by the Provincial Health Office.
  7. Rescue equipment and rescue teams, mobilized by the Search and Rescue Committee and ready for deployment. For his part, acting Governor Jose Antonio Leviste III emphasized to all municipal disaster coordinating councils the need to identify safe evacuation centers other than school buildings and classrooms. “He said this is very necessary in order not to compromise the education of the children," the NDCC said. Also, the Talisay disaster coordinating council said it is ready to tap private motorized bancas in the municipality, while that in San Nicolas said it has 130 motorized bancas ready. Disaster coordinating councils in Calaca and Balayan volunteered to accommodate evacuees from affected towns and offered the services of their resources such as transportation. -- JV, GMANews.TV