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PHIVOLCS lowers Taal Volcano's status to Alert Level 2

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology on Friday lowered the alert level status of Taal Volcano to Alert Level 2, as parameters have consistently indicated its decreased unrest in recent weeks.

"After step-down to Alert Level 3 last 26 January 2020, Taal Volcano’s condition in the succeeding three weeks has been characterized by less frequent volcanic earthquake activity, stabilizing ground deformation of the Taal Caldera and Taal Volcano Island edifices and weak steam or gas emissions at the Main Crater," PHIVOLCS said in a bulletin.

Taal Volcano initially spewed kilometers-high ash plume on January 12 and an imminent hazardous eruption had since been expected—prompting mass evacuations of residents within the 14-kilometer radius from the main crater.

Two weeks later, the volcano's status was downgraded from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3. Displaced residents outside the seven-kilometer danger zone were already allowed to return to their homes.

After the scaling down of Taal status to Alert Level 2, PHIVOLCS advised that the Taal Volcano Island—a permanent danger zone—shall remain off-limits.

"Alert Level 2 means that there is decreased unrest but should not be interpreted that unrest has ceased or that the threat of an eruption has disappeared," it pointed out.

There is still a possibility of raising the alert level should there be an uptrend, according to PHIVOLCS.

"Local government units are advised to additionally assess previously evacuated areas within the seven-kilometer radius for damage and road accessibility and to strengthen preparedness, contingency and communication measures in case of renewed unrest," it added.

Those living beside active river channels with thick deposits of volcanic ash from Taal's previous eruption were advised to be vigilant for possible lahar flow when there is heavy and prolonged rainfall.

Aircraft must also avoid flying close to the volcano due to hazards of airborne ash and ballistic fragments from sudden explosions and wind-remobilized ash, it added. —Dona Magsino/LBG, GMA News