It was bad enough that the residents of communities ringing Taal Lake in Batangas have been worrying with the rest of the country about the COVID-19 outbreak going into 2020, they suddenly had to evacuate when the famous volcano at the center of said lake suddenly erupted in January 12 of that same year. The plucky inhabitants of Volcano Island had to leave, and even a year later government officials are warning people away from Taal Volcano. A year later, that nightmare seems to be recurring with the locals since Taal re-intensified activity since February 2021. This day alone, about five little eruptions were observed.

Indeed, as reported by CNN Philippines, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) recorded no less than five eruptions of Taal Volcano throughout the morning of Wednesday, July 7. These eruptions, which were phreatomagmatic in nature, began early with the first at 5:18 AM, lasting a minute. The second was at 8:47, third at 9:15, fourth at 9:26 and the last one at 11:56 AM, before noon. Phreatomagmatic eruptions are caused by interaction of volcanic magma with water, which is abundant in Taal Lake.

In an update regarding the eruptions, PHIVOLCS head Renato Solidum noted that they were not at all that big. However he does point out the increased risks due to the phreatomagmatic nature of this latest volcanic activity in Taal. “Because more magma may rise to the surface and interact with water at the crater, and since there is a possible increase in gas emissions, a more powerful explosion may occur, which is dangerous for our fellow Filipinos who live near the Volcano Island,” says Solidum. He has suggested further evacuation of residents from the municipalities of Laurel and Agoncillo, Batangas which are both in high-risk areas. The eruptions were accompanied by some 55 volcanic quakes and increased sulfur dioxide emissions.

Significant disturbances at Taal Volcano began anew just this past July 1, with an eruption that raised its alert level status from Level 2 to 3. Since then, about 1,218 households comprising a total of 4,465 individuals have been moved to temporary evacuation shelters according to the Batangas provincial LGU. Owing to the cramped quarters in the shelters increasing the risk of spreading any case of COVID-19, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque has requested the addition of more shelters to further spread out the evacuees, with COVID vaccination being performed in some of these said sites as possible.

Image courtesy of Philippine Star