3 Taal volunteers in their 20s die in car crash

Taal’s ongoing eruption, as seen on Jan. 13, 3:40am <i>Photo: ABS-CBN News</i>
Taal’s ongoing eruption, as seen on Jan. 13, 3:40am Photo: ABS-CBN News

Three men in their 20s who volunteered to send relief goods to victims of the Taal Volcano eruption died in a tragic car crash hours after coming from an evacuation center in Batangas, sources confirmed on Wednesday night.

According to police reports, Rio Abel, Maximino Alcantara, and Darwin Lajara were driving through San Jose town at 1:30am on Tuesday morning in a Mitsubishi Lancer, driven by Alcantara, when they crashed into the rear end of an Isuzu Tractor Head truck, which was entering the gate of a nearby establishment, Philippine Daily Inquirer reports. The police report didn’t specify if the accident was caused by ashfall or poor visibility due to the volcano.

Abel and Alcantara died on the spot, while an acquaintance of Lajara confirmed to CNN Philippines that he died in the hospital on Wednesday after receiving treatment. The three, who were all Batangas residents, were reportedly heading home hours after delivering relief goods to one of the province’s evacuation centers, DZRH News reports.

Tributes to the three have poured in on social media since last night praising them for helping Taal victims prior to their deaths.

A bulletin released by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) this morning said that Taal has emitted “short-lived dark gray ash plumes” measuring 800 meters high. The volcano is dispersing ash southwest of the main crater, and activity in the past 24 hours has “generally waned to weak emission.”

However, Alert level 4 is still in effect, which means a full-blown eruption is still possible within the next few hours or days. PHIVOLCS has also advised residents living near the volcano to remain on guard for heavy and prolonged ashfall.

Meanwhile, as the public scrambles to purchase protective gear against Taal’s ashfall, the Department of Health has ordered a price freeze on over 200 basic and essential medical products, including N95-grade face masks, in areas affected by the eruption.

The memorandum, dated Jan. 14, was issued to ensure that victims are protected “against profiteering, hoarding, cartels and the like that compromised their access to pharmaceutical products.”

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