We thought this would have gone without saying, but apparently not, so here goes: Can everyone just stay away from the active volcano, please?
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) today warned against visiting Taal Volcano after a video of an unidentified man giving a tour of the still highly dangerous geological formation went viral.
As if his presence in an area — which will soon be designated an official “no man’s land” — wasn’t worrisome enough, PHIVOLCS head of volcano monitoring Mariton Bornas pointed out that the guy wasn’t even wearing proper shoes.
“He was wearing slippers when the ground is very hot,” Bornas told ABS-CBN News.
In the seven-minute video, the man is seen on an ash-covered slope surrounded by bare, blasted tree-trunks and clouds of steam emitting from the ground. Over the course of the video, the man shares his observations of the devastated site, pointing to what he calls a “ravine” where “holes” have appeared.
“The large fissure that he saw, there’s an explosion pit there, and there can be an eruption anytime,” Bornas said.
“There are also high levels of sulfur near it. It is very dangerous if we inhale [sulfur dioxide] in high concentrations. That’s toxic gas,” she added.
According to the Center for Disease Control, exposure to sulfur dioxide can damage the respiratory system, and prolonged exposure can lead to death.
Besides the risk from the volcano’s toxic fumes, Bornas added that the man could have died if the volcano suddenly erupted. PHIVOLCS has said in its previous statements that the presence of sulfur dioxide suggests that magma is nearing the surface.
While Taal’s ash plumes have reportedly weakened in the past few days, Alert Level 4 remains in place over the volcano.
PHIVOLCS Director Renato Solidum Jr. told the press yesterday that there was now just a 30 percent chance of a full-blown eruption, but emphasized that the probability changes daily.
“Looking at the history of Taal Volcano, its story does not simply end,” Solidum said. “Sometimes, there could be months or years between eruptions,” he added.
Bornas, meanwhile, added that while the probability has gone down, there is still a possibility of a violent eruption.
In a bulletin released this morning, PHIVOLCS said that the volcano has been emitting more sulfur and that its ash plumes have measured as high as 500 meters. There were an additional seven earthquakes yesterday, bringing the total number to 738 since Taal first erupted on Jan. 12.
PHIVOLCS reiterated that everyone should be evacuated from Taal Volcano Island and other high-risk areas within a 14-kilometer radius of the volcano’s main crater. People should also be evacuated from the Pansipit River Valley, where volcanic fissuring — or magma flowing up through cracks in the ground — has appeared.
Meanwhile, in what seems like a pretty good indication of why humans shouldn’t go there, the Philippine Animal Welfare Society announced that a horse rescued from Taal Volcano Island died yesterday from severe respiratory problems despite being treated by a vet after being evacuated to Balete.
TAAL HORSE PASSES AWAY. Today, we said goodbye to Princess. She was one of the 43 whom PAWS took in in partnership…