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Monday, December 4, 2023

Classes suspended across Metro Manila as smog blankets region

Local governments in Metro Manila suspended classes on Friday due to the presence of suspected volcanic smog or vog, but the state volcanology agency said the vog did not come from the active Taal Volcano in Batangas.

The smog hovering over Metro Manila “is not related” to activity from Taal, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said on Friday.

Thick smog envelopes the skyline of Metro Manila on Sunday, September 17. Smog is toxic haze primarily composed of pollutants that is caused by urbanization and industrialization. Manny Palmero

Still, all 17 local government units in the National Capital Region declared a suspension of classes “due to smog formation,” the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) announced at noontime via social media.

In a message to reporters, Phivolcs said the vog was drifting west-southwest of the Taal Volcano, “so [it is] not going toward Metro Manila.”

“The vog was over areas on the western side of Taal Volcano,” Phivolcs said.

Based on its vog advisory on Thursday afternoon, Phivolcs said volcanic smog has lingered over the Taal Region “since the first week of September.”

“Phivolcs reminds the public that Alert Level 1 prevails over Taal Volcano, which means that it is still in abnormal condition and should not be interpreted to have ceased unrest nor ceased the threat of eruptive activity,” he added.

Initially, the southern Metro Manila cities of Muntinlupa, Paranaque, and Las Pinas declared the class suspension as the public woke up to smog.

But by lunchtime, the smog had spread sufficiently across NCR for the MMDA Council to call for an early end of classes in all levels, for both public and private schools.

State weather forecaster Rhea Torres said that based on current data, the wind was coming from the northeast, with volcanic smog possibly affecting the southern portion of Metro Manila.

“Take note the wind has some sulfuric content. This is hazardous especially for those with lung diseases. Face masks should be worn,” she said in a TeleRadyo Serbisyo interview.

Earlier, over 40 students were brought to various hospitals in Tuy, Batangas due to the effects of the volcanic smog caused by the activity of Taal.

Dr. Amor Calayan, head of the Batangas Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said the smog has been affecting towns in the province for two weeks.

The affected students have complained of chest tightness or pain, dizziness, itchy throat, and itchy skin.



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