BATANGAS, Philippines – It’s been 5 days since the Taal Volcano began to erupt, forcing thousands of families to flee of their homes.
On Friday, January 17, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) chief Ricardo Jalad flew over the crater of the volcano for the first time since the volcano began to erupt to personally see the extent of the destruction.
Talking to reporters after his reconnaissance courtesy of the Philippine Air Force, Jalad described the damage to vegetation and houses on the island as "massive."
The entire island was covered by a thick blanket of ash, and the air reeked of sulfur and decay. The volcano appeared to be resting, releasing only puffs of steam and ash – far from its picture of unrest on Sunday, January 12, when it spewed a tower of ash that triggered lighting.
Jalad stressed that the island remained a "permanent danger zone," reiterating his recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte to declare it a no man's land even after Taal Volcano calms down.
In its briefer on Friday afternoon, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the Taal Volcano may be in a lull, but it didn’t mean that its eruption had ended. The volcano was still on Alert Level 4, which meant that an eruption was still imminent.
Phivolcs said the small earthquakes they had monitored could mean magma was flowing beneath the earth that could eventually be blasted out by the volcano.
Watch this video taken by Rappler’s Charles Salazar of Taal Volcano up close. – Rappler.com