Phivolcs: Taal still unsafe as magma remains 5 km below crater

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 30 2020 03:24 PM | Updated as of Jan 30 2020 03:50 PM

Fishermen return to Taal Lake in Agoncillio, Batangas on January 30, 2020, days after residents were allowed to return within the 7-km danger zone during window hours due to the downgrading of Taal Volcano's alert level to 3.Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Taal Volcano island remains unsafe as magma was monitored 5 kilometers below the volcano's crater, Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) chief Renato Solidum said Thursday, days after the agency said there was a decreased possibility of a hazardous eruption.

"Hindi pa din po safe dahil we monitored the presence of magma 5 kilometers below the crater," Solidum said during a Senate hearing.

"Puwede siyang mag-solidify na lang sana, puwede pa ring umangat... Pero hindi na bababa ulit 'yong magma," he said.

Earlier this week, Phivolcs lowered the Taal volcano's alert to level 3, after "activity in the main crater weakened."

The continuous emission of smoke is a signal that the Taal continues to simmer liquid within the volcano, the Phivolcs chief said.

"Parang sinaing 'yan. Kahit kumukulo na siya sa loob, dahil may takip ['yong crater], usok lang ang nakakalabas... pero 'pag nawala 'yong takip dahil sa mga konting pagsabog, lalabas na 'yan [magma]," he said.

The Taal Volcano generated some 137 volcanic earthquakes in the past 24 hours, a sign that the volcano continues to rumble, Phivolcs said in its 8 a.m. bulletin.

"These earthquakes signify magmatic activity beneath the Taal edifice that could lead to eruptive activity at the main crater," it said.

The Taal's recent eruption has displaced thousands of families living either on the island or along adjacent lakeshore towns.

It is up to local government units whether they will allow residents to return to their homes because Phivolcs is just in charge of providing the data on the volcano's movements, Solidum said.