Business as usual for some fishermen despite the threat of a volcanic erruption here in Laurel, Batangas.
Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV
Alert Level 4 still over Taal as further eruptions still possible
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - January 19, 2020 - 11:08am

MANILA, Philippines — Approaching a week after the initial Taal Volcano explosion occurred last January 12, state volcanology bureau Phivolcs said that consistent volcanic activity still left open the possibility of another eruption. 

In their 8 a.m. bulletin on Sunday, Phivolcs said that steam emissions were steady while weak explosions happened infrequently in the past 24 hours. Some 787 volcanic earthquakes and 15 low-frequency earthquakes were also felt within this timeframe.

Phivolcs' warnings remain unchanged for the most part despite the most recent developments. "Continuous magmatic intrusion," they said, "may lead to further eruptive activity."

At a press conference on Sunday morning, representatives of Phivolcs warned the public, especially those residing in Batangas, to continue wearing face masks and avoiding listed danger zones despite the reduced ashfall in the area. 

"Matagal mag-settle ang abo. Yung mga medyo maselan sa abo, they should really take precautions. Tama lang na kailangan mag-face mask. It is advisable," Phivolcs said. 

Since 1 p.m. on the day of the first steam eruptions, the bulletin said, the Philippine Seismic Network recorded a total of 691 earthquakes ranging from magnitudes 1.2 to 4.1 and were felt at intensities I (scarcely perceptible) to V (strong). 

"Based on PAGASA wind forecast, if the eruption plume remains below five (5) km, ash will be drifted to south and southwest of the Main Crater," the bulletin read. 

"[H]owever, if a major eruption occurs during the day and eruption column exceeds 5 km, ash will also be drifted to the eastern and northeastern sectors and may fall on portions of Batangas, Laguna and Quezon."

READ: NDRRMC on red alert over Taal unrest

As of this writing, Batangas and Cavite have already been declared under a state of calamity, which indicates significant losses in agriculture and infrastructure, among others. 

Although no immediate casualties have been reported as a direct result of the eruptions, the disruption of life has been massive. According to the latest situation report by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, a total of 22,472 families, amounting to 96,061 persons have been affected. 70,413 of them are in cramped, makeshift evacuation centers that rely almost solely on donations to sustain those seeking shelter, according to a humanitarian group. 

READ: 'Heartbreaking' situation for 'under-reported' evacuees — humanitarian group

Livelihoods, too, have been damaged, as farmers and fisherfolk who were evacuated continue to reel from the loss of potential income. To top this off, damage to agricultural lands and the Taal Lake have been reported. 

Despite these, state volcanologists said that the volcano displayed "generally weaker" activity throughout the past 24 hours but maintained that precautions must be taken and that Alert Level 4 will remain firmly hoisted. 

LIST: Where you can donate for Taal Volcano relief efforts

PHILIPPINE PHILIPPINE INSTITUTE OF VOLCANOLOGY AND SEISMOLOGY PHIVOLCS TAAL VOLCANO ERUPTION 2020
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