Students, faculty, and staff on the campus of Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) are safe during the unexpected eruption of Taal volcano south of Manila, Philippines.
The volcanic activity increased rapidly on Sunday evening, January 12, prompting officials to raise the alert level from 2 (moderate level of unrest) to 4 (hazardous eruption imminent) within a matter of hours.
Campus officials are closely monitoring updates and instructions from local authorities. Although nearby, AIIAS is approximately 10 kilometers outside the 14-kilometer radius currently designated as the evacuation zone. Classes and work were canceled by the provincial governor for Monday and Tuesday.
“No evacuation has been ordered at this time but we have an incident team working steadily to assess the situation,” stated AIIAS President Ginger Ketting-Weller in her communications to campus on Monday morning. The team continues to develop their crisis response strategy addressing communications, logistics, and the approach to evacuation, should that become a reality.
The incident team has also been in consultation with Dr. Samuel Saw, the Southern Asia-Pacific Division president, and with local ADRA officials.
The once bright-red roofs and lush green scenery of AIIAS are covered with gray ash. However, the institution has power and water. Local stores near the campus are in operation.
The on-campus internet connection has been secured by IT director Miguel Taipe following a brief power outage on Sunday. Campus residents have been advised
to monitor their emails, social media group updates, and local media. Masks have been distributed to campus residents as the ashfall has continued, posing possible health hazards particularly for residents with respiratory problems.
“We are so grateful for the prayers of people around the world for our safety and protection,” says Ketting-Weller in discussing the situation and the work of the incident team. “We ultimately trust in God, but we also want to do all we can to be wise.”
Taal volcano is just 22 kilometers (13 miles) from the AIIAS campus in the province of Cavite. The volcano last erupted in 1977, and had been considered largely dormant; it has been a popular hiking attraction for locals and tourists.
By: Bruce Sumendap and Sharnie Love Zamora – AIIAS, Silang, Cavite, Philippines