Relief, not added grief

The eruption of Taal Volcano this month have shown the speed and character of many Filipinos in responding to a disaster of such magnitude.

The volcano, the only one of its kind within a lake in the world, has had nearly 430 earthquakes, 137 felt, ranging from Magnitude 1.2-4.1 and Intensity of 1-5 and has, as of this month, erupted 34 times in 448 years, or since 1572.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has recorded increased volcanic activities of Taal, one of 53 active volcanoes in the archipelago, which sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire where the oceanic Philippine plate and several smaller micro-plates are subducting along the Philippine Trench to the East, and the Luzon, Sulu and several other small Trenches to the West.

The volcanoes of the Philippines have been ranked by authorities as the most deadly and costly in the world: About 13 percent of its historic eruptions have caused fatalities, most notably at Taal in Batangas and Mayon in Albay, and 22 percent of its eruptions have caused significant damage.

In only six days since its eruptions started on Sunday, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has identified two zones of concern around the 311-meter high volcano: around 459,000 reside within a danger zone with a 14-kilometer radius round the volcano, while more than 930,000 people live in a wider 17-kilometer danger zone.

And now Phivolcs has urged a total evacuation of everyone within the 17-kilometer radius danger zone.

The distressing sight of Filipinos affected by the eruptions—most of which were caused by the interaction of magma and water—has become a daily nightmare, not helped any by the warning by state volcanologists that a “hazardous eruption” may occur “within hours or days.”

As quick as the speed of evacuees in leaving their homes, including some of their pets and farm animals, is the applaudable sprint made by donors from both the private and public sector areas, not last the politicians, some of whom have made a sickening spectacle of this unwanted tragedy.

Donors, whatever hues they wear, would be best advised to course their donations in cash or in kind through the legitimate local government units who are mandated to acknowledge with gratitude such donations.

Whoever the donors are—and we assume the best intentions here—they should help provide relief to the displaced thousands of families, wherever evacuation centers they are in now, not additional grief.

Topics: Taal Volcano , Eruption , Relief , United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs , Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology
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