State volcanologists from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) have lowered Taal Volcano’s alert to Level 3 on January 26 after two weeks of monitoring it for a possible eruption. This comes after the volcano had its strongest ash emission on the early morning of January 24. Taal had been on Alert Level 4—meaning that it was prone to hazardous explosive eruption within hours or days—since it erupted on January 12.
Alert Level 3 indicates that there is "relatively high unrest" in the volcano through "seismic swarms" like low frequency earthquakes. Interior Undersecretary Bernardo Florece, citing PHIVOLCS chief Renato Solidum, announced that the new level was due to the downward trend of the volcano’s activity.
Florece also said that this alert level will allow the displaced residents to return to their homes with notice that a possible eruption may still happen. They are also required to be prepared for immediate evacuation beyond the 14-kilometer danger zone in case it happens.
"If that magma reaches the surface, then the eruptions can restart or it can happen again [.] [B]ut if… it will just stay at that level, then (if) we don’t see yet a resurgence," he explained to CNN.
Meanwhile, Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas gathered officials from the Interior Department and the Philippine National Police to talk about the contingency plan for the level alert.
The eruption of Taal volcano has caused the evacuation of more than 300,000 residents from its nearby areas since its eruption two weeks ago. Police officials and the military have put 199 barangays and 15 cities and municipalities in Cavite and Batangas in total lockdown since then.
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