Students, faculty, and staff on the campus of the 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, 2020, 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 the volcano is nearby, AIIAS is approximately 6 miles (10 kilometers) outside the 8.5-mile (14-kilometer) radius currently designated as the evacuation zone. The provincial governor canceled classes and work for January 13 and 14.
“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 the campus community on Monday morning. The incident team continues to develop its 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 Samuel Saw, Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) president, and with local Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) officials.
The once bright-red roofs and lush greenery of AIIAS are covered with gray ash from the volcano eruption, leaders reported. The institution has electrical power and water. Local stores near the campus are in operation.
IT director Miguel Taipe has secured the on-campus internet connection following a brief power outage on Sunday. Campus residents have been advised to monitor their emails, social media group updates, and local media announcements. 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,” Ketting-Weller said 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 15.5 miles (25 kilometers) 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 local residents and tourists.