Disaster Fact Checks

FALSE: 4 volcanoes placed under Alert Level 1 after Masbate earthquake


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FALSE: 4 volcanoes placed under Alert Level 1 after Masbate earthquake
The 4 volcanoes have been under Alert Level 1 for weeks or even months before the earthquake in Masbate occurred

The Kanlaon, Bulusan, Taal, and Mayon Volcanoes were placed under Alert Level 1 after the magnitude 6.6 earthquake that hit Masbate on August 18.

Multiple Facebook users and pages posted this claim. For example, Facebook page QatarSocialMedia posted supposed photos of the earthquake’s impact, with the caption, “6.9-magnitude recorded in #Philippines today on August 18. Also there are 4 active #volcanoes in Alert Level 1 (signaling abnormal volcanic activity) following the +6.5-magnitude of heavy earthquake.”

Facebook page UAE Labours also posted using an almost identical caption and the same photos.

FALSE full post: 4 volcanoes alert level 1 after Masbate earthquake

These posts were spotted by Rappler’s Fact Check team on social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle.

Rating: FALSE
The facts:

The 4 volcanoes have been under Alert Level 1 for some time, weeks, or even months before the Masbate earthquake.

The criteria for alert levels vary for each volcano, accounting for certain levels and indicators of volcanic activity.

On August 18, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) reshared a graphic that indicates when the 4 volcanoes were placed under Alert Level 1. The Mayon and Bulusan volcanoes have been under Alert Level 1 since July 2020, while Taal and Kanlaon have been under Alert Level 1 since March 2020.

Phivolcs posted this graphic with the caption, “Matagal na po ang mga umiiral na Alert Level sa mga sumusunod na Bulkan.” (These alert levels have been maintained for a long time now for the following volcanoes.)

“The earthquake occurrence is obviously later,” Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum Jr told Rappler in a text message. “[Whether] the earthquake will have an effect on the activity of Mayon and Bulusan, we will monitor,” he said.

Moreover, according to Phivolcs’ primer on the August 18 earthquake in Masbate, the earthquake cannot indicate volcanic activity.

“The nearest active volcano is the Biliran Volcano which is approximately 65 kilometers from the epicenter and this earthquake is tectonic in origin,” the primer said.

FALSE: 4 volcanoes placed under Alert Level 1 after Masbate earthquake

According to Phivolcs, “Tectonic earthquakes are produced by sudden movement along faults and plate boundaries. Earthquakes induced by rising lava or magma beneath active volcanoes [are] called volcanic earthquakes.”

In addition, one photo used in these two posts was misrepresented. The photo of a woman comforting a child came from a video depicting the aftermath of an earthquake in Mexico in June 2020.

In the past, Rappler has also fact-checked other claims about natural disasters, such as the Taal Volcano eruption in January 2020. – Loreben Tuquero/Rappler.com

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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