PLDT, Smart activate disaster response teams amid twin threats from STS Auring, Taal

PLDT and Smart stand ready to respond, as Severe Tropical Storm Auring threatens the eastern border of the country and Taal Volcano rumbles in Batangas.   

#AuringPH has further intensified as it moves slowly over the Philippine Sea east of Mindanao. As of 11am, February 19, the storm is packing maximum sustained winds of 95 km/h and gustiness of up to 115 km/h. Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal No. 1 has been raised over Davao Oriental, the eastern portion of Davao de Oro, parts of Agusan del Sur, and Surigao del Sur.  

To provide communication as aid in affected areas, Smart has activated Libreng Tawag (free call), Charging (free charging), and WiFi stations in Mindanao, ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice. Smart has also deployed satellite phones to Samar and Panay ahead of Auring’s landfall.  

PLDT and Smart are currently monitoring the situation. They’re urging everyone to take necessary precautions and heed the alerts and warnings of local governments and disaster response authorities.   

Both companies have also prepositioned personnel, network equipment, and resources to ensure the resilience of services, and if needed, the quick restoration of communication in areas that will be impacted by #AuringPH. They’re also ready to extend assistance to response and relief teams in affected communities.   

Over in Luzon, Phivolcs has maintained Alert Level 1 over Taal Volcano as of 8 a.m. February 19.  In the past 24 hours, the agency has recorded at least nine tremors lasting between 70 and 80 seconds. Weak emission of white steam-laden plumes reaching 40 meters high have been observed from the main crater. Phivolcs warns that areas within the Taal Volcano Island may experience sudden steam-driven or phreatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, minor ashfall, and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas.    PLDT-Smart Foundation (PSF) has committed 500 hygiene kits, as well as 500 boxes of face masks as initial aid to affected residents. The two companies are also preparing tents, blankets, and pillows to be deployed in various evacuation centers. Food packs are also being readied to be handed out to residents.   

Earlier this year, Smart returned to San Nicolas, Batangas, devastated by Taal’s previous eruption, turning over two disaster warning tools in the form of ‘batingaw’, a bell or a siren used by communities as an early warning device. The wireless arm of PLDT also conducted a cash-for-work program and taught beneficiaries how to use technology to help them with farming via the Digital Farmers Program (DFP).

All these efforts are part of PLDT-Smart’s #SafeandSmart advocacy, which promotes preparedness and immediate response through network resilience, continuous availability of communication services, mobile solutions and activities, and relief assistance to help communities mitigate disaster risks.

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