Phivolcs lowers Taal Volcano status to Alert Level 1

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 19) — State volcanologists on Thursday lowered the alert level hoisted over Taal Volcano after it showed decreased volcanic activity.

The status was lowered after four weeks from Alert Level 2 or decreased unrest to Alert Level 1 or abnormal activity -- the lowest of a five-tiered alert system.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology or Phivolcs said only low-level volcanic earthquake activity and stabilized ground deformation were observed.

Despite the lowering of the alert level, Phivolcs warns the volcano is still in an abnormal condition and the threat of an eruption has not disappeared. Under Alert Level 1, eruption is not imminent but seismicity is slightly higher than when there is no alert raised.

Phivolcs said sudden steam-driven or phreatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, minor ashfall, and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas remains a threat in nearby areas.

On January 12, Taal Volcano reached Alert Level 4, only one level away from the highest alert issued when a hazardous eruption is ongoing. The restive volcano emitted steam- and magma-laden plumes. Thousands of residents were displaced due to the threat of an explosive eruption. Military and police officials also put on lockdown all 199 barangays and 15 municipalities and cities in Batangas and Cavite which were marked as vulnerable to base surges and volcanic tsunami.