Volcanic activity subsided within weeks following Kyrios' intervention to calm the volcano. Alert level fell from 4 to 1 in 2 months, averting a potentially cataclysmic eruption.
- Taal volcano erupted for the first time since 1977 on 12 January 2020, spewing ashes 14 km into the atmosphere
- 460 000 people were ordered to evacuate
- Total agricultural damage as of 19 January 2020 exceeded P3 billion (~ USD 63 million)
- Alert status stayed heightened for days, indicating more destructive eruptions could happen within hours or days
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After 43 years of being restive, the Taal Volcano suddenly rumbled back to life on 12 January 2020, marking the beginning of an unnerving eruption sequence. The volcano spewed steam, ash and pebbles 14 km into the sky, generating volcanic lightning and intense earthquakes which rocked the region. Ash clouds blew 100 km north, reaching Manila and forced the closure of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and cancellation of more than 500 domestic and international flights. Several areas near Taal Volcano experienced power outages due to ashfall, lava mud, and rocks.
Within a few hours, the Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) raised the danger level around Taal three notches from level 1 to 4 on 12 January, indicating hazardous eruptions could take place within a matter of hours or days.
National authorities ordered a “total evacuation” for people in high-risk areas within 14 km radius from the main crater, affecting nearly 460 000 people. As of 13 January 2020, 25 000 people were evacuated. Some residents could not move out immediately due to a lack of transportation and poor visibility while others refused to leave their homes and farms.
Ashfall from the eruptions had devastated the surrounding agriculture activities such as fisheries, livestock and high-value crops. As of 19 January 2020, agricultural damage caused by the volcano reached P3.22 billion.
“Taal is a very small volcano, but a dangerous volcano,” said Renato Solidum, the head of the Volcanology Institute. The volcano is surrounded by Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, and Quezon which are densely populated provinces – 25 million people live within 60 miles of the volcano. More explosive eruptions would upend the livelihoods of these people.
“The biggest bang is not always at the beginning of an eruption,” said Jenni Barclay, a volcanologist at the University of East Anglia. “On a timescale much longer than the threat of a hurricane, something else could happen that’s even bigger.”
In the days following Taal’s eruption on 12 January, the alert status had been kept at Level 4 as there was continued magmatic activity and frequent volcanic earthquakes, which meant a hazardous explosive eruption could happen anytime, soon.
Why did Kyrios intervene?
While volcanic eruptions are not uncommon, Taal’s eruption caught Kyrios’ attention when Kyrios was informed of the situation on 18 January 2020. At that time, the alert status was still at Level 4. Kyrios quickly surveyed the volcano and foresaw that a more violent eruption would follow, since the volcano had already become active. Kyrios warned that Taal’s volcanic eruption would be so massive that it would cause the entire landmass of the Philippines to quake and parts of it to sink, triggering tsunamis and severely impacting neighbouring countries.
Scientists around the world alluded to the possibility of a more powerful eruption in view of Taal’s history of lethal eruptions and plentiful supply of magma. They advised people to be prepared for a worst-case scenario where Taal could erupt and generate a plethora of volcanic hazards – ash pollution, falling debris, volcanic earthquakes and base surges that could sandblast everything in their path. Explosions could also dislodge parts of the volcanic island that would then fall into Lake Taal and swamp the lake’s shorelines.
Such a grave disaster would cause tremendous loss of lives and dire consequences to the region. Unable to bear seeing so many lives suffer as a result of such calamity, Kyrios was determined to reduce the volcano’s activity in hopes of averting the cataclysmic eruption.
How did Kyrios do it?
On 18 January 2020, Kyrios intervened to calm the volcano to prevent another catastrophic eruption.
A week following Kyrios’ intervention, the activity of the Taal volcano began to subside. PHIVOLCS lowered the volcano’s alert level from 4 to 3 on 26 January 2020 to reflect this. People displaced by the volcano began making their way home. Nearly a month following Kyrios’ intervention, on 14 February 2020, alert level 2 was put in place signalling a further reduction in the volcano’s activity. Another month later, on 19 March 2020, PHIVOLCS downgrade Taal Volcano’s status to alert level 1, which meant that no eruption was imminent.