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Stamford, Conn. – Jan. 14, 2020 – Americares has deployed an emergency response team to assist families displaced by the volcanic activity in the Philippines. The team, based out of the Americares office in Manila, is distributing protective masks, cleaning kits and essential hygiene products to families staying in evacuation centers in the Batangas province.
Toxic ash and debris spewed from the Taal Volcano on Sunday, triggering mass evacuations, canceling hundreds of flights at Manila’s main airport and prompting a “state of calamity” in Batangas province. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alert to a Level 4, indicating an imminent explosive eruption and ordered a total evacuation within 14 kilometers of the volcano’s danger zone—a process made difficult by the poor visibility and, for many, a lack of transportation. Local authorities have also warned of a possible volcanic tsunami in the lake surrounding the volcano, which can be triggered by falling debris after an eruption.
“Our first priority is ensuring displaced families have access to critical relief items to protect their health,” said Paul Pagaran, Americares country director for the Philippines. “Our emergency response experts are ready to meet the most urgent health needs in the hardest-hit communities.”
Inhaling volcanic ash particles can cause breathing problems, particularly for children, the elderly and those with chronic respiratory issues. Residents of affected communities have been advised to wear protective masks or place a wet cloth or towel over their face when going outdoors.
Located in the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire,” a seismically active region prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, Taal is among two dozen active volcanoes in the Philippines.
Americares has been providing assistance to the Philippines—one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries—for more than 20 years. Americares established a base of operations in Manila in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 to respond more quickly to disasters and strengthen health care for families in need. In addition to preparing for and responding to disasters, the Americares Philippines team helps to repair, rebuild and support critical local health centers, often the only source of care for thousands of people.
Americares has professional relief workers ready to respond to disasters at a moment’s notice and stocks emergency medicine and supplies in warehouses in the U.S., Europe and India that can be delivered quickly in times of crisis. The organization responds to approximately 30 natural disasters and humanitarian crises worldwide each year, establishes long-term recovery projects and brings disaster preparedness programs to vulnerable communities. Since its founding 40 years ago, Americares has provided more than $18 billion in aid to 164 countries, including the United States.