Philippines order residents to evacuate volcano danger zones

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Philippines to force residents to evacuate Taal Volcano danger zones, police will conduct house-to-house search in towns within the Taal Volcano’s 14-kilometer danger zone in an effort to have zero casualties in case of an eruption, a Philippine police official said on Thursday.

While the likelihood of a hazardous eruption has gone down to 30 per cent, it is still very high, especially within the 14-kilometer-radius danger zone, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said on Thursday.

“Remember that the magma is already there, so the question is if it will still rise or not. Alert Level 4, the second-highest alert level, remains in place,” Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum said.

We are in the most crucial times, so I am ordering the immediate evacuation of all residents within the danger zone, including the relocation of our security forces,” Brig.-Gen. Vicente Danao, Southern Luzon Regional Police Director, said.
He said local authorities received reports that a number of people had remained in their homes or had gone back.

Police officers assigned in danger zones could be transferred to safer areas once the towns had been cleared of residents, he said.

The Department of Interior and Local Government issued an order on Wednesday to strictly implement a total lockdown of areas within the 14-kilometer danger zone.

We need to clear these areas of people because this is for their own safety. You cannot outrun volcanic materials,” Danao said.

On Thursday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that 81,000 families – or more than 316,000 people – have been evacuated from the area since Taal erupted on Jan. 12, blanketing towns with heavy layers of ash, some 147,000 are staying in 500 evacuation centers.