Local government units near Mayon Volcano are prepared in case of a sudden evacuation, and the Office of Civil Defense said it is ready in case the situation worsens, a spokesman said Wednesday.
This developed as the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology observed active degassing at the main crater of the Taal Volcano in Batangas over the past 24 hours.
Classes in all levels in Laurel, Batangas were suspended on Wednesday due to the high level of “vog,” or volcanic smog, being emitted by Taal, the local government said.
In a Facebook post, the Laurel LGU said affected classes were those from 10 a.m. onwards.
In a public briefing, OCD Information Officer Diego Mariano said: “Anytime that just in case the situation worsens, we are ready to evacuate (residents near Mayon). Even the assistance we can extend to our countrymen that would be affected is also ready.”
Mariano added that the quick response fund and standby fund are ready to be disbursed to aid affected residents should there be any eruptions, as the OCD continues to monitor the status of volcanoes in the country.
“We are ensuring that there are no people at the permanent danger zones and that our preparedness measures are in place, in case the alert levels for these volcanoes rise,” he added.
In its 11 a.m. bulletin, Phivolcs said a visible upwelling of volcanic fluid in the crater and a voluminous 2-kilometer-high, steam-rich plume caused significant volcanic smog (vog) since Tuesday.
Taal emitted an average of 7,680 tons/day of volcanic sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas on Tuesday and 9,291 tons on Monday.
“Vog can be expected to persist over the Taal region while degassing activity, weak wind movement, and humid atmospheric conditions prevail,” Phivolcs said.
The public is reminded to protect themselves by covering their nose with an N95 mask, with Phivolcs noting that vog can irritate the eyes, throat, and respiratory tract.
“In addition, acid rain can be generated during periods of rainfall and volcanic gas emission over areas where the plume disperses, causing damage to crops and affecting metal roofs of houses and buildings,” the agency said.
Taal’s Alert Level 1 means entry to its permanent danger zone remains prohibited.
“At Alert Level 1, sudden steam-driven or phreatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, minor ashfall, and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas can occur and threaten areas within Taal Volcano Island,” Phivolcs said.
On Monday, the agency raised the alert level status of Mayon Volcano to Alert Level 2 after the increased rockfall events at the mountain in Bicol.
Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines alerted pilots to steer clear of Kanlaon Volcano on Negros Island due to its ongoing unrest.
Kanlaon has been on Alert Level 1 since March 11, 2020, due to abnormal activity.
In Laurel, the local government suspended classes “to ensure the safety of our students and teachers.”
Laurel residents were advised to wear face masks, drink lots of water, and continue monitoring the local government’s Facebook page for updates and advisories.