Authorities began evacuating residents in barangays located near Taal Volcano in Batangas on Saturday after Alert Level 3 was raised following the volcano's phreatomagmatic burst.
The evacuation was conducted in five barangays in the municipalities of Agoncillo and Laurel which are within seven-kilometer distance from Taal Volcano's crater, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council told reporters.
"Ongoing ang evacuation activities po sa Barangay Gulod, Boso-Boso and eastern portion of Bugaan East in Laurel. And initial info from Agoncillo local government unit is 160 families had been evacuated," NDRRMC spokesperson Mark Timbal said.
Timbal said the NDRRMC is still getting more information and updates from the LGUs.
"The 160 families po are estimated to be 800-900 persons," Timbal said, quoting Agoncillo Mayor Daniel Reyes.
Timbal added that the evacuees were brought to five schools and one covered court.
Meanwhile, as of 11 a.m., 222 individuals have been evacuated from the affected barangays in Laurel, the NDRRMC said.
In an interview on Super Radyo dzBB, Batangas Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office chief Joselito Castro on Saturday said the evacuees will not be allowed to go back to their homes while Alert Level 3 is still in effect.
The provincial government and the Department of Social Welfare and Development will provide family food packs to evacuees to augment LGUs' efforts, the NDRRMC also said.
Meanwhile, not much plumes were seen coming out of Taal Volcano by 10 a.m., Castro said.
According to him, PHIVOLCS has not observed any large debris coming out of Taal Volcano. However, on Taal Lake, sand fell on the waters and felt by fishermen feeding fish in fish cages.
PHIVOLCS said the main crater of Taal Volcano "generated a short-lived phreatomagmatic burst" at 7:22 a.m.
This was "followed by nearly continuous phreatomagmatic activity that generated plumes 1500 m accompanied by volcanic earthquake and infrasound signals," PHIVOLCS added.
Under Alert Level 3, "there is magmatic intrusion at the Main Crater that may further drive succeeding eruptions," it said.
In its website, PHIVOLCS said Alert Level 3 means "magma is near or at the surface, and activity could lead to hazardous eruption in weeks. Danger zones may be expanded up to eight (8) kilometers from the active crater," PHIVOLCS said in its website.
PHIVOLCS strongly recommended the evacuation of residents in Taal Volcano Island and Barangays Bilibinwang and Banyaga in Agoncillo, and Boso-bobo, Gulod and eastern Bugaan East in Laurel "due to the possible hazards of pyroclastic density currents and volcanic tsunami should stronger eruptions subsequently occur."
PHIVOLCS also reiterated that Taal Volcano Island is a permanent danger zone. It also said entry into Taal Volcano Island as well as the barangays of Agoncillo and Laurel which are considered high-risk should be prohibited.
"All activities on Taal Lake should not be allowed at this time," it added.
Timbal said no one is currently on Taal Volcano Island, while fishermen on Taal Lake were already evacuated by the Philippine Coast Guard.
"The volcano island naman po is empty of people in view of its protected status. The fishermen po sa lake were already evacuated by PCG," he said.
The PCG, which is on heightened alert, also deployed personnel and trucks to help in the evacuation of affected residents. —KG, GMA News