Disaster Fact Checks

FACT CHECK: No prediction of three volcanic eruptions in Leyte on July 1


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FACT CHECK: No prediction of three volcanic eruptions in Leyte on July 1
The same video predicting the supposed disasters circulated in April, with the Office of Civil Defense belying the claim and saying it has no scientific basis

Claim: Three volcanoes in the Philippines – Biliran, Mahagnao, and Cabalian – will erupt on the evening of July 1, 2023 alongside the “explosion” of the Pacific Ring of Fire. This will cause widespread destruction of numerous towns in Leyte.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The claim was made in a Facebook video that has over 419,000 views, 2,500 comments, and 5,400 Facebook shares as of writing.

The video showed images from Google Earth along with the text: “Catastrophe [sic] detail on July 1, 2023 in Leyte.” 

No alerts from authorities:  As of June 29, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has not released any advisory regarding the supposed imminent volcanic eruptions of Biliran, Mahagnao, and Cabalian.

This casts doubt on the so-called prediction because volcanologists rely on historical data, continuous monitoring, and looking at observable changes in the volcano’s behavior to predict when a volcano is likely to erupt. 

“Most volcanoes provide warnings before an eruption. Magmatic eruptions involve the rise of magma toward the surface, which normally generates detectable earthquakes,” according to the United States Geological Survey.

Hoax: The same claim circulated back in April when it was posted by a TikTok user with over 22,000 followers. Reacting to the video, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Region VIII released a statement on April 19 belying the claim.

“The Office of Civil Defense Region VIII would like to clarify that the Tiktok video circulating online pertaining to the schedule of multiple volcanic eruptions and tsunamis in Leyte and Southern Leyte has no scientific proof, thus, FALSE,” the OCD said.

Dubious details: While both Biliran and Cabalian are classified as active volcanoes, Mahagnao Volcano is considered “potentially active” due to its active thermal features. In 2019, Phivolcs denied rumors of the volcano’s impending eruption, saying that it has been dormant since its last eruption in 1895.

The video also claims that the three volcanic eruptions will coincide with the eruption of the “Ring of Fire,” which refers to a region around the edges of the Pacific Ocean considered “the most seismically and volcanically active zone in the world.” It surrounds several tectonic plates including the Pacific Plate and the Philippine Plate.

More than 450 volcanoes are located along the Ring of Fire. The possibility of a simultaneous explosion of all these volcanoes is extremely unlikely.

False predictions: Rappler has previously debunked numerous so-called predictions on future natural disasters, including volcanic eruptions.

– Jessica Bonifacio/Rappler.com

Jessica Bonifacio is an incoming third year Environmental and Sanitary Engineering student currently volunteering under Rappler’s Research Unit.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. You may also report dubious claims to #FactsFirstPH tipline by messaging Rappler on Facebook or Newsbreak via Twitter direct message. You may also report through our Viber fact check chatbot. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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