Communities living near Taal Volcano should watch out for more possible expulsions from the crater, Phivolcs said Thursday after the volcano belched steam and magma.
Taal Volcano was placed under Alert Level 3 indicating magmatic unrest on Thursday, one notch higher from Level 2 (increasing unrest), after it belched a dark plume due to contact between magma or molten rocks and water near the crater.
The next 24 hours are "critical," said Phivolcs director Renato Solidum Jr. because continuous volcanic activity could prompt a higher alert level.
"Kung tuloy-tuloy ang aktibidad ng bulkan pwede po tayo umabot ng Alert Level 4," he said in a press briefing, referring to a warning that a hazardous eruption is imminent. Level 5 indicates a hazardous eruption is in progress.
"Patuloy pa rin magbubuga yan ng asupre. Babantayan natin kung may mga kakaiba pang pangyayari lang gaya ng explosion," he said.
If the activity within Taal Volcano decreases, the alert level could be rolled back to Alert Level 2, Phivolcs volcano monitoring chief Antonia Bornas said.
"Pag nag-decline within two weeks, pwede po tayo bumaba ng Alert Level 2," she said, noting that there are more hazards tied to the latest phreatomagmatic eruption compared to last year phreatic eruption.
Fishing in the Taal Lake should be prohibited, Phivolcs said, as it recommended evacuation in the following areas:
1. Taal Island
2. Agoncillo, Batangas: Villages of Banyaga, Bilibinwang
3. Laurel, Batangas: Villages of Bulod, Boso-Boso, Lakeshore Bugaan East
Is ashfall expected? Phivolcs director Solidum said it is unlikely for ashfall to reach Metro Manila and other provinces in the Southern Tagalog region.
"Masyadong mababa yung pagputok kanina, kung meron mang ashfall yun ay baka bahagya lang at doon lang sa crater," he said.
Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas said the local government unit deployed trucks for evacuation and has prepared temporary shelters. "'Yung mga evacuation site na malayo nakahanda na rin tayo," he said.
In January last year, Taal spewed clouds of ash just before the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting thousands to flee.