Province of Batangas placed under state of calamity, evacuations ordered

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MANILA, Philippines — The Provincial Government of Batangas has placed the whole province under state of calamity following the eruption of Taal Volcano and virtually blanketed it in ash.

Following the massive explosion late afternoon on Sunday, 12 January 2020, that spewed kilometers high column of powdery sand up in the clouds, ashfalls reached to as far as Metro Manila and Central Luzon.

Some even claimed it reached further to Ilocos Region.

The Philippine Star also reported disaster teams struggled to penetrate areas blanketed by ash to rescue or help ferry thousands of residents fleeing a potentially destructive eruption.

Near-zero visibility caused by the rain of ash has hampered the exodus of residents and tourists from many parts of Batangas.

Provincial Vice Gov. Mark Leviste said local officials made the decision to declare a state of calamity during a meeting of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. “No need to go through the usual government processes because we are in an emergency situation,” he said.

Under a state of calamity, the provincial government can now utilize P60 million in emergency funds to address the needs of people displaced by the catastrophe.

The Batangas Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) said over 200,000 individuals have been affected by Taal’s activity.

Batangas PDRRMC head Lito Castro said initial reports show that 16,780 individuals or 3,013 families in the most affected towns of Balete, Laurel, San Nicolas, Talisay and parts of Lipa and Tanauan City have initially been evacuated. He said the figure could rise to 200,000 in the event of a full-blown eruption.

Subject to mandatory evacuation were 12 municipalities and two cities within a 10-kilometer radius from Taal. These are Agoncillo, Alitagtag, Balete, Cuenca, Laurel, Lemery, Malvar, Mataas na Kahoy, San Nicolas, Sta. Teresita, Talisay, portions of Taal, Lipa City and Tanauan City. (JGo/Currentph.com)

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