The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised the alert status over Taal Volcano to Alert Level 3 at past 3:00 p.m. on Thursday as the volcano’s main crater generated a “short-lived dark phreatomagmatic plume 1 kilometer-high with no accompanying volcanic earthquake.”
Alert Level 3 indicates “magmatic unrest” that may be a prelude to an eruption.
“This means that there is magmatic intrusion at the main crater that may further drive succeeding eruptions. Phivolcs strongly recommends Taal Volcano Island and high-risk barangays of Agoncillo and Laurel, Batangas be evacuated due to the possible hazards of pyroclastic density currents and volcanic tsunami,” Phivolcs said.
The agency also said that the entire volcano island is a “permanent danger zone” and that “entry into the island as well as high-risk barangays of Agoncillo and Laurel is prohibited.”
The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday has placed all of its units in the Calabarzon (Region 4A) on alert to assist in the possible evacuation of residents near and in the surrounding areas of Taal Volcano, which has also been releasing sulfur dioxide (SO2).
In a statement, PNP chief, Gen. Guillermo Eleazar directed police offices and units to start coordinating with local government units to find out if there are residents in need of assistance due to the volcano’s continuing state of unrest.
SO2 is a colorless gas with a pungent odor and can irritate the eyes, throat, and respiratory tract in severity, depending on the gas concentrations and durations of exposure.
Eleazar also noted that the local police offices should also monitor developments on the volcano’s activity aside from coordinating with local government unit officials to give assistance to affected residents.