Thousands still in shelters as Alert Level 3 remains over Taal
Devastation of Taal Volcano eruption seen at Agoncillo in Batangas last Jan. 27, 2020.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

Thousands still in shelters as Alert Level 3 remains over Taal

Franco Luna ( - February 3, 2020 - 12:44pm

MANILA, Philippines — Alert Level 3 is still up over Taal Volcano weeks after the initial eruption on January 12, as the affected population in the Calabarzon region has reached 480,000.

According to the latest update by state volcanology bureau Phivolcs, one of the 134 volcanic earthquakes caused by Taal in the past 24 hours registered at magnitude 3.2 and was felt at Intensity IV in Agoncillo, Batangas. 

The alert status means a "decreased tendency towards hazardous eruption." Although not as active as in the days after the first steam eruption at Taal's main crater, Phivolcs still maintains that this does not diminish the possibility of a volcanic eruption. 

In the latest bulletin by the National Disaster Risk Response and Management Council issued 8 a.m. on Sunday, the council recorded 25,327 persons remain in 162 evacuation centers while 226,538 are displaced elsewhere. 

Notably, while the numbers of both evacuees seeking shelter in evacuation centers and the evacuation centers themselves has gone down, those "being served outside evacuation centers" went up. In most cases, these people are staying with relatives.

'Bar entry into 7-km danger zone'

State seismologists strongly recommended that entering the permanent danger zone within a seven-kilometer radius from the volcano's crater still be strictly prohibited. 

"Phivolcs reminds the public that sudden steam-driven and even weak phreatomagmatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, ashfall, and lethal volcanic gas expulsions can still occur and threaten areas within Taal Volcano Island and nearby lakeshores," the bureau said. 

Damage to agriculture still stands at P3.4 billion as many have cast fear over the uncertainty of returning home as those displaced and robbed of livelihood include childrenAeta communities and fisherfolk

"People are also advised to observe precautions due to ground displacement across fissures, frequent ashfall and minor earthquakes," Phivolcs said. 

"Communities beside active river channels particularly where ash from the main eruption phase has been thickly deposited should increase vigilance when there is heavy and prolonged rainfall since the ash can be washed away and form lahars along the channels."

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