Filipinos return home after volcano threat eases

Warning signs like earthquakes have been steadily waning since Taal burst to life two weeks ago. (File/AFP)
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Updated 27 January 2020

Filipinos return home after volcano threat eases

  • People living in high-risk areas near the volcano were warned to be vigilant
  • Damage due to the volcanic activity has been estimated at $64 million

MANILA: Hundreds of thousands of people evacuated on Luzon island when a volcano began belching smoke were allowed to return home on Sunday after the threat level eased.

Residents in the Batangas province were evacuated after the Taal volcano began spewing clouds of thick ash and steam two weeks ago, prompting Philippine authorities to issue a “level four” warning that an eruption was possible “within hours or days.”

Authorities said the reduction in the threat level did not mean the threat of an eruption had disappeared.

People living in high-risk areas near the volcano were warned to be vigilant and to prepare for a quick evacuation if necessary.

Following the latest advice on the volcano, Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas said that residents evacuated from their homes could decide if they wanted to return.

The towns of Agoncillo and Laurel, both within a 7 km radius from Taal’s crater, will remain in lockdown, he said.

Mandanas added that there are still “health hazards due to ashfall, as well as the risk of physical injuries and damage to properties.”

Almost 1 million people had been evacuated, he said. About 800,000 were staying with family or friends, while the rest were housed in evacuation centers in Batangas, and in the neighboring provinces of Quezon, Cavite and Laguna.

Damage due to the volcanic activity has been estimated at $64 million.

Videos on social media showed residents in cars and on motorcycles cheering and waving as they headed home.

Authorities said measures were in place to ensure an orderly return, and appealed for cooperation from residents.

The Batangas governor also said that power and water might still be unavailable because of the shutdown.


Five dead, three missing after Jakarta floods

Updated 26 February 2020

Five dead, three missing after Jakarta floods

  • The muddy deluge inundated the presidential palace, a major hospital and entire neighborhoods across Jakarta on Tuesday
  • Floodwaters reached more than a meter (three feet) in some parts of the capital but were receding by Wednesday

JAKARTA: Five people were killed, three more are missing and thousands are unable to return to their waterlogged homes after floods submerged parts of Indonesia’s capital, officials said Wednesday.

The muddy deluge inundated the presidential palace, a major hospital and entire neighborhoods across Jakarta on Tuesday, only weeks after 70 residents of the low-lying megacity died in some of the deadliest flooding in memory.

Two teenagers were among the five people drowned or electrocuted in hard-hit parts of the city, Indonesia’s national disaster agency said.

“The joint rescue team is still searching” for three other possible victims, agency spokesman Agus Wibowo told AFP, adding that nearly 20,000 people were staying in emergency shelters.

Floodwaters reached more than a meter (three feet) in some parts of the capital but were receding by Wednesday, a day after rescuers combed drenched districts in pontoon boats to locate vulnerable residents.

Parts of the city had ground to a halt as thousands of buildings were swamped, sparking power outages and disrupting commuter trains.

Jakarta, a sprawling city beleaguered by massive traffic jams and poor infrastructure, is prone to flooding during the annual wet season.

Indonesian president Joko Widodo last year unveiled plans to relocate the capital to an as yet unbuilt city on Borneo island.