By Aaron Recuenco
BATANGAS CITY– The number of evacuees from areas devastated by the Taal Volcano eruption has swelled to more or less one million individuals after the implementation of the lockdown of areas within the 14-kilometer danger zone, Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas said on Tuesday.
Mandanas said more or less 200,000 people are currently staying in evacuation centers in Batangas, Laguna, Cavite, and Quezon.
Another 800,000 or so people are seeking refuge in the houses of relatives in non-affected areas of Batangas and nearby areas, as well as other places including Metro Manila.
“This figure is based on the number of population living within the declared lockdown areas,” Mandanas told reporters in a press briefing here.
The Provincial Government of Batangas is currently enforcing a mandatory evacuation within the 14-kilometer danger zone, which is described to be within striking distance of the ring-like cloud of intensely hot gases and volcanic materials if a base surge were to occur.
Among the areas that were locked down were Talisay, Laurel, San Nicolas, Balete, Agoncillo, and some areas in Lemery, Taal, Sta. Teresita, Mataas na Kahoy, Lipa City, and Tanauan City.
Earlier, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) prohibited the implementation of ‘window hours’ for local residents to return to their homes in locked-down areas.
Mandanas said he expects that there are no more people within the danger zone as this was the strict order of the DILG. The DILG earlier warned they would forcibly evacuate all people who remain within the 14-kilometer danger zone.
“We are currently locating all the evacuees outside the evacuation centers to extend help to them because we believe that their relatives who opened their houses cannot sustain their daily needs,” Mandanas said.
This is the reason, he added, why they have been asking all the evacuees outside the evacuation centers to coordinate with the local officials where they are currently seeking refuge.
“We cannot just abandon them, they too are affected, they too need help.”