The Sciences

Tourists, volcanoes and government: Trying to prevent disaster at Taal

Rocky Planet iconRocky PlanetBy Erik KlemettiJun 13, 2010 7:01 AM

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Volcano Island in the caldera lake at Taal.

The Philippine government is upping its concern about an eruption at Taal - and cracking down on tourists and resorts trying to get near Volcano Island in the volcano's caldera lake. Tourists are only allowed to take boat tours in the lake that go halfway to the island - which doubles as the most recently active vent at Taal - and if resorts on the lake bring tourists any closer, they may face repercussions from the government. Of course, this still isn't stopping tourists and natives from going to the island anyway. Now, one thing interesting to ponder is Eyjafjallajökull has affected tourists in the Philippines mentality about visiting potentially active volcanoes. With all the footage, especially during the basaltic fissure stage, or people traipsing near the erupting volcano, some folks might have the mistaken idea that any volcano will behave in this fashion - and that could lead to disaster. Even foreign governments are warning "the capacity of the Philippine emergency and rescue services to deal with large natural disasters is limited." (UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office). The provincial government in Batangas has cancelled classes on Volcano Island and brought the students to the mainland - with 300 people voluntarily evacuating the island. An intense sulfur odor has been noted on the island - never a good sign when it comes to a potentially active volcano. There have also been more "folksy" reports of "strange animal behavior" since the Alert Status was raised to 2 - so take that as you will.

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