Manila vice mayor warns businesses as face mask prices spike to P200 amid Taal eruption

Manila vice mayor warns businesses as face mask prices spike to P200 amid Taal eruption

MANILA, Philippines — Prices of face masks in Manila jumped by as high as P200 apiece amid high demand as ash pours over parts of Luzon due to threats of an "explosive eruption" of Taal volcano south of the capital, Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan said Monday.

Taal volcano, a popular tourist attraction set in the center of a picturesque lake, spewed ash, rumbled with earthquakes and exploded with lightning above its crest.

Thousands of people living nearby were evacuated from their homes, but other locals weighed whether or not to flee the area.

In a statement, Lacuna-Pangan said her office received complaints that some merchants in Manila are selling face masks, including the N95 kind, at high prices.

She then warned businesses against taking advantage of the high demand by raising the prices of face masks and ordered the Manila Bureau of Permits and Manila Licenses Office to conduct inspections.

“Mula P25 hanggang P30, pumalo na raw nang P200 ang isang piraso ng N95 Mask (From P25 to P30 each, it has been reported that the prices of N95 masks have skyrocketed to P200 apiece),” Lacuna-Pangan said.

“Huwag naman po natin gamitin ang panahon na ito para manamantala. Tandaan po natin, delikado po sa kalusugan nila ito (Let’s not take advantage of this situation. Remember, there are threats to human health)," she added.

A "hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days." the nation's seismological agency warned.

Ash from the volcano can irritate the skin, nose and eyes.

Earthquakes and volcanic activity are not uncommon in the Philippines due to its position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide deep below the Earth's surface. — Ian Nicolas Cigaral with a report from AFP