Pinatubo Survivors Offer Help to People Affected by Taal Eruption

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Although tragic as it is, the recent Taal eruption gave rise to acts of kindness from Filipinos from all walks of life. From random local residents washing the windshields of cars passing by, to malls waiving overnight parking fees, charity abounds in the midst of the devastating calamity. In a recent Taal eruption update, kindred spirits in the person of Pinatubo survivors are giving back.

As cited in Manila Bulletin, the province of Pampanga will deliver 8,500 food packs to those affected by the recent volcanic eruption. Pampanga Governor Dennis Delta announced in his official Facebook page that he will also lead a 50-vehicle convoy, carrying groups of medical professionals, social workers, and search and rescue experts who will help in the evacuation efforts of communities in Taal region. The unit will also bring search and rehabilitation equipment with them.

Calling it “payback time,” the governor added that the initiative is an expression of thanksgiving for those who helped save them and get them back on their feet when Mount Pinatubo erupted. Both Pinatubo and Taal are included in the Pacific Ring of Fire.

The effort is supported by different stakeholders. Among them are the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), Provincial Government Environment and Natural Resources Office (PG-ENRO), Provincial Information Office (PIO), and Philippine National Police (PNP).

The announcement post garnered positive sentiments from netizens, commending the local government unit for the initiative. As of writing, it has over 25,000 shares.

Memory of Pinatubo

Considered to be the second-largest eruption in the 20th century, Mount Pinatubo’s intense volcanic activity happened on June 15, 1991. The eruption lasted for nine hours, triggering massive earthquakes in the region. The volcano spewed about 15 million tons of sulfur dioxide gas, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This reached the atmosphere, which then mixed with water and oxygen, producing sulfuric acid, thereby causing ozone depletion. Adding to the dire situation is tropical storm Yunya pounding the region with huge volumes of rainwater. This resulted in tephra or volcanic rock fragments raining over the entire island of Luzon, as well as thick layers of mud carpeting the streets.

Although the tragic event happened in 1991, experts believe it started a year prior. In July 1990, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake was recorded 100 kilometers northeast of the Pinatubo region. The massive shake was key in rousing the sleeping volcano.

According to The National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC), more than 350 people died during the calamity, with collapsing roofs as the common cause of death. After the eruption, the number of deaths further increased as diseases ran rampant in evacuation centers and lahar moved to towns and communities. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of people became homeless, as the eruption destroyed properties. Most of these individuals are locals who lived in small villages near the volcano.

The distance from Pinatubo to Taal Volcano is roughly 150 kilometers. Authorities haven’t found any signs of unrest in the former, as a result of the latter.

Taal Eruption Update

As of writing, Taal is still under Alert 4 level, contrary to the fake news circulating online that it has already elevated to Alert level 5, Manila Bulletin reported. The current alert level means hazardous eruption is possible within hours or days. This classification is characterized by intense unrest and persistent seismic tremors.

According to GMA Network, a total of 212 volcanic earthquakes were recorded early in the morning of January 14. The report shows that 81 of these have intensities ranging from I-V in Tagaytay City, Cavite. Experts explain that these quakes indicate that there’s a continuous magmatic movement in Taal, which can result in an eruption in the coming days.

Meanwhile, evacuations have been happening in the region since the volcano started spewing smoke and ashes on Sunday, January 12, 2020. The local government hopes to transfer about 200,000 people away from imminent danger. This involves residents from Talisay, Lemery, Balete, Tanauan, San Nicolas, Lipa, and Laurel. In other reports, there are also evacuees being moved from some towns of Cavite.

In response to false reports on social media platforms, authorities appeal to the public to get information only from reliable sources, such as official pages of government agencies. Earlier, in relation to what was happening in Batangas, there were reports that the Mayon alert level was elevated to the second degree. Asserting that this is partly false, Rappler published a story, saying that this had been Mayon’s alert level since March 2018, despite the Taal activity.

For Taal eruption updates, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council strongly advises checking legitimate sources only.

Sources: Manila Bulletin, Governor Delta Facebook page, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), U.S. Geological Survey, National Geophysical Data Center, GMA Network

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