Taal alert level lowered

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Sunday lowered the status of the Taal Volcano to Alert Level 3 from Alert Level 4.

In its 8 a.m. bulletin, the and Phivolcs said Taal Volcano now has “decreased tendency towards hazardous eruption” after two weeks of surveillance for another potential eruption.

Phivolcs said this does not eliminate the possibility of a volcanic eruption.

Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum earlier said in a television interview there was “no expected activity for now” as long as magma deep beneath the volcano does not move.

“If that magma reaches the surface, then eruptions can restart or it can happen again... However, at the upper part of the volcano, the pit of the magma, will generate steam from boiling of the groundwater and that steam might either be emitted slowly or explosively so that can be a steam-generated explosion,” Solidum added.

State volcanologists also strongly recommended strict prohibition of entrance to the permanent danger zone within a seven-kilometer radius from the volcano’s crater.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), in its 6 a.m. situation report, said some 98,000 families or 376,000 persons in the provinces of Batangas, Quezon, Laguna, and Cavite have been affected by the volcano’s unrest.

“Of this number, about 135,365 persons were taking temporary shelter in 497 evacuation centers while 168,569 were served outside evacuation centers,” the NDRRMC added.

Since Taal Volcano’s eruption on January 12, the military and police began a total lockdown of all 199 barangays and 15 municipalities and cities in Batangas and Cavite -- areas marked “vulnerable to base surges and volcanic tsunami”.