Philippine state scientists yesterday retained the high alert level at an erupting volcano despite an apparent decline in its activity, stressing that the danger is not yet over.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the alert in Taal volcano in Batangas province, 66 kilometres south of Manila, will remain at the second-highest level “as long as there is probability” of a hazardous explosive eruption.
“There is a seeming weakening of the activities but it doesn’t mean the danger is over,” Maria Antonia Bornas, head of the volcano monitoring division at Phivolcs, told a press conference.
“We have ground deformation parameters that the volcano is still inflated and is still inflating,” she added. “The magma is already there and the volcano can easily erupt.”
Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum added that the mountain’s swelling and continuing volcanic earthquakes also indicate that there was a re-supply of magma from underneath.
“If the magma moves fast, or if it mixes with water, the explosion could be stronger,” he told Manila radio station DZMM. “There are many historical accounts that the next explosion could be stronger.”
The number of residents forced to flee their homes due to eruption has reached more than 235,000, according to the national disaster risk reduction office, as data was consolidated from various local government units.
Taal volcano, the second most active volcano in the Philippines, has erupted 33 times since 1572.
Its last eruption was in October 1977, but it showed signs of unrest between 2008 and 2011, as well as in 2019.
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