Philippines: Volcano Taal’s quakes and road cracks send more people fleeing

World Faizah Kamal 20-Jan-2020
Volcano Taal
Volcano Taal © Lowlihjeng | Dreamstime.com

On January 16 the Taal Volcano in the Philippines belched smaller plumes of ash but shuddered continuously with quakes and cracked roads in nearby towns, which were blockaded by police due to fears of a bigger eruption.

The Taal Volcano’s crater lake and a nearby river have dried up in some of the signs of its continuing volcanic restiveness. This has prompted army troops and police to block villagers from returning by boat to the volcanic island and nearby towns to retrieve belongings, poultry and cattle.

There have been no reports of deaths or serious injuries from the sudden eruption, which began on January 12, but many houses and farms were damaged by volcanic ash, which briefly forced the shutdown of Manila’s international airport and caused more than 600 flights to be cancelled. The volcano in Batangas province lies more than 65 kilometres (40 miles) south of Manila.

Amid warnings of an imminent and more dangerous eruption, police cordoned off at least four towns along or near the coast of a lake surrounding the volcano’s island, sparking arguments with villagers.

“We’ve lost everything, our house got damaged, but I need to retrieve my pots and cooking wares and other things. They should not be very, very strict,” Erlinda Landicho, a 59-year-old mother, told the news agency Associated Press.

Landicho, who fled with her son from Lemery municipality as the volcano erupted, was among a throng of villagers stopped by police from re-entering the ash-blanketed town. A fire truck blocked a key access road and police set up checkpoints. Beyond the barricade, Lemery appeared to be partly shrouded in swirling ash.