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Evacuation drill tests high-risk villages in Agoncillo on Taal preparedness

CALAMBA CITY (PIA) – Evacuation plans for high risk villages in Agoncillo, Batangas were set up in a drill on Wednesday, July 12, 2023 should there be an escalation of the Taal Volcano from its ongoing low-level activity.

The Batangas Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) led the evacuation drill to assess the community’s awareness and test the evacuation plans, including warning system, camp coordination and management mechanisms if Taal’s current alert level 1 is raised from Level 2 to Level 3.

The drill, which was part of the annual National Disaster Resilience Month (NDRM) activities, gathered communities from Agoncillo’s Barangays Bilibinwang, Banyaga, and Subic Ilaya.

Reyan Derrick Marquez, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Calabarzon officer-in-charge, said a contingency plan is in place for the safe evacuation of affected areas in the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, and Batangas.

As of July 13, the Taal volcano remains under Alert Level 1 while the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) detected six (6) volcanic earthquakes including five (5) volcanic tremors lasting from two (2) to four (4) minutes.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), volcanic eruption poses various health risks such as eye, skin, and respiratory illnesses. Exposure to sulfur dioxide can also cause difficulty in breathing, irritation to the skin or eyes, mucus secretion, bronchitis, coughing, and asthma.

As a precaution, the Calabarzon RDRRMC distributed face masks in surrounding communities to protect the residents from inhaling the harmful volcanic gases.

“Kaya ang malalapit na mga eskwelahan at LGU sa Taal volcano ay binigyan natin ng mga face mask,” Marquez said.

The OCD Calabarzon recommends using N95 masks which are effective in filtering ash and protecting respiratory health. Marquez also suggested double masking, or layering one mask on top of another, using surgical masks.

Last June 8, the Calabarzon RDRRMC also staged the 2nd quarter National Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED) in Laurel, Batangas which is within Taal’s 14-kilometer danger zone and would be one of the hardest hit areas in the event of a hazardous eruption.

“Dito nagkaroon ng evacuation plan at ipinakita ng Laurel ang mga dapat gawin sa oras na magkaroon ng lindol. At the same time, tinulungan natin sila kung paano pa nila maisasaayos ang kanilang evacuation [plan].” Marquez explained. (PB)

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Patricia Bermudez


Region 4A

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