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Taal Volcano erupts, placed on Alert Level 3

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has placed Taal Volcano under Alert Level 3 following an eruption that gave rise to a kilometer-high phreatomagmatic plume at past 3 p.m. on Thursday.

According to PHIVOLCS, the main crater generated a short-lived 1 kilometer-high phreatomagmatic plume at 3:16 p.m. with no accompanying earthquake.

PHIVOLCS said the phreatomagmatic eruption lasted until 3:21 p.m.

Taal Volcano generated four more phreatomagmatic eruptions as well as upwelling activities on Thursday evening.

In its update, state volcanologists said the short phreatomagmatic bursts lasted two minutes each and generated short jetted plumes that rose 200 meters above the main crater lake.

"These events occurred at 6:26 PM, 7:21 PM, 7:41 PM and 8:20 PM. Upwelling of the Main Crater Lake that began at 8:07 PM  tonight is ongoing," it added.

In an interview on Super Radyo dzBB, PHIVOLCS director Renato Solidum said Alert Level 3 meant the volcano exhibited "magmatic unrest".

"'Yung pagsabog po kanina, short-lived lang naman siya, mga limang minuto pero maitim po ‘yung pinaka eruption column," Solidum said.

"Ibig sabihin may laman bago yan pero hindi gano'n kataas, isang kilometro lang ang inabot," he added.

[The explosion earlier was short-lived, around five minutes, but the eruption column was rather dark. This means it contains something but it's not that high, just a kilometer.]

PHIVOLCS recommended that residents of Taal Volcano Island and the high-risk barangays of Agoncillo and Laurel towns be evacuated due to possible hazards of pyroclastic density currents and volcanic tsunami.

“The public is reminded that the entire Volcano Island is a Permanent Danger Zone, and entry into the island as well as high-risk barangays of Agoncillo and Laurel is prohibited,” it said.

The PHIVOLCS also advised communities around Taal to take precautionary measures and to remain vigilant of possible lakewater disturbances. 

'Still stable'

Despite this, Solidum said the volcano was stable.

“Sa aming pagbabantay, tinitignan namin kung titindi pa ang pamamaga niya. Hindi ganon ang ano, ang nakikita natin. Steady lang. So may kaonting pressure na naipon at ‘yun ang pag buga,” Solidum said.

[We’re monitoring the possible swelling of the volcano. But that’s not the case. It’s steady. So a slight pressure built up and that was the explosion.]

Solidum said the volcano emitted around 13,000 tons of sulfur dioxide or SO2 from Thursday morning to early afternoon, less than the 14,326 tons it emitted on Monday.

“Nonetheless, kailangan natin pag-ingatan ang Taal. Kasi nagkakaroon na ng explosion. Pwede naman na talaga mangyari ito na after one year may sumunod na activity,” he said.

[Nonetheless, we need to be careful with the Taal because there was already an explosion. It’s possible to have another activity after one year.]

The Taal Volcano on Tuesday emitted enough sulfur dioxide to reach the National Capital Region and nearby provinces on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, concerned personnel were earlier placed on high alert in case residents need to be evacuated from areas surrounding restive Taal Volcano. —with Consuelo Marquez/NB, GMA News