KEY POINTS

  • PHIVOLCS lowered Taal Volcano's status to Alert Level 3
  • The lockdown on cities surrounding the volcano has been lofted
  • Experts warned that an eruption might still occur

A local agency in the Philippines has lowered the alert level status of the Taal Volcano in the province of Batangas. However, despite the downgraded status, agency officials warned that the threat of a violent eruption is still present.

The volcano’s alert level status has been lowered from 3 to 4 about two weeks after its initial phreatomagmatic eruption on Jan. 12. According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), the status of Taal was downgraded following a decline in its volcanic activities within the last couple of days.

As noted by the agency, fewer earthquakes were recorded within the regions surrounding the volcano, prompting PHIVOLCS to lower its status to Alert Level 3. Following the announcement from the agency, local authorities lifted the lockdown on 12 cities that were previously within the volcano’s 14-kilometer danger zone. In addition to the change in the volcano’s status, the established danger zone was also decreased to 7 kilometers.

The removal of the lockdown was welcomed by the residents of the cities surrounding the volcano as it finally allowed them to return to their homes.

“We can breathe easy now, because I know our citizens will be happy to be able to go back home. I have requested that electricity and water be returned to areas formerly included in the lockdown,” Mayor Angeline Halili of the city of Tanuan said in a press release, according to PhilStar Global.

Despite the improving conditions of the volcano, PHIVOLCS warned that it does not automatically mean that an eruption will no longer happen. As explained by the agency, although Alert Level 3 indicates that the volcano’s tendency to cause an explosive eruption has decreased, it does not mean that the threat of a natural disaster has disappeared completely.

The agency noted that it will continue to monitor Taal Volcano and its activities within the next few days. If PHIVOLCS detects signs of increased volcanic activity, it may raise its status to Alert Level 4, which means an explosive eruption might occur within hours or days.

“Should an uptrend or pronounced change in monitored parameters forewarn a potential hazardous explosive eruption, the alert level may be raised back to Alert Level 4,” the agency said in a statement, according to CNN Philippines.

Taal is one of the most active volcanoes in a nation hit periodically by eruptions and earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific 'Ring of Fire' Taal is one of the most active volcanoes in a nation hit periodically by eruptions and earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific 'Ring of Fire' Photo: AFP / Ted ALJIBE