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The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (also known as Phivolcs) lowered the alert level at Taal Volcano to 3 on Sunday, two weeks after the volcano erupted on January 12.
The government agency lowered the alert level, which ranges from 1 to 5, to 3 following a decline in volcanic activity.
According to the agency, alert level 3 means that there is a “decreased tendency toward a hazardous eruption”. However, the agency stressed that the change in the alert level “should not be interpreted that the unrest has ceased or that the threat of hazardous eruption has disappeared”.
The agency added that alert level 3 still means that there could be “sudden steam-driven and even weak phreatomagmatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, ashfall and lethal volcanic gas expulsions.”
Phivolcs said that the alert level could again be raised to 4 “should an uptrend or pronounced change in monitored parameters forewarn a potential hazardous explosive eruption” and warned that people residing within areas that are at high risk but who had returned home after the alert level was lowered should be prepared to evacuate once again should the treat level be raised.
Phivolcs also said that the alert level could be lowered to 2 if there was a “persistent downtrend in monitored parameters”.
Damage caused by Taal Volcano
The Taal volcano is one of the Philippine’s most reactive volcanos. After the volcano began spewing ash on January 21, it prompted mandatory evacuations with more than 300,000 residents from nearby areas being evacuated, many of whom sought shelter in temporary evacuation centers set up in schools and government buildings.
The police and military also placed towns under lockdown to prevent residents from returning to their communities.
No deaths have been reported and the economic impact to the Philippines has been minimal even though Manila’s main international airport was shut down for a night due to volcanic ash, ultimately leading to the cancelation of hundreds of flights.
The Philippines lies within the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, a region frequently subjected to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as a result of moving tectonic plates below the Earth’s crust.