MANILA (UPDATE) - Taal Volcano was placed on Alert Level 3 on Saturday morning after its "main crater generated a short-lived phreatomagmatic burst," with plumes reaching as high as 1,500 meters, the Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology said.
Phivolcs said the phreatomagmatic burst was recorded at 7:22 a.m., with its nearly continuous activity accompanied by volcanic earthquake and infrasound signals.
Alert Level 3 means "there is magmatic intrusion at the Main Crater that may further drive succeeding eruptions," the agency said.
"PHIVOLCS strongly recommends Taal Volcano Island and high-risk barangays of Bilibinwang and Banyaga, Agoncillo and Boso-boso, Gulod and eastern Bugaan East, Laurel, Batangas Province be evacuated due to the possible hazards of pyroclastic density currents and volcanic tsunami should stronger eruptions subsequently occurs," it said.
Agoncillo Mayor Daniel Reyes said that residents in Bilibinwang and Banyaga have been evacuated because of Taal's increased activity.
The local government unit has been sending vehicles to take residents to a safer area, but authorities are still studying where to put the fleeing residents.
"The public is reminded that the entire Taal Volcano Island is a Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ), and entry into the island as well as high-risk barangays of Agoncillo and Laurel must be prohibited," Phivolcs said.
According to the agency, all activities on Taal Lake should not be allowed at this time, and communities around the Taal Lake shores are advised to take precautionary measures against possible airborne ash and fog and calmly prepare for possible evacuation should unrest intensify.
It urged civil aviation authorities to "advise pilots to avoid flying over Taal Volcano Island as airborne ash and ballistic fragments from sudden explosions and pyroclastic density currents such as base surges may pose hazards to aircraft."
In a TeleRadyo interview, Phivolcs director Usec. Renato Solidum said that the volcano is not seen to have a major eruption like it had in January 2020.
"Posible naman siyang mag-subside," he said.
[It can possibly subside.]
'NOT EXPLOSIVE ERUPTION'
Solidum assured the public that Taal's succeeding bursts might not be strong just like what happened in 2020, since the magma's rise has been slow.
"Dahil mabagal... ang mga gas na nailalabas niya at hindi naiipon sa loob ng magma," he said in a public briefing.
"Kumbaga, hindi na masyadong explosive ang eruptions na nakikita natin compared noong January 2020 kung saan yung magma sa ilalim na mabilis umakyat, hindi na-release ang gas at naipon ang magma nang sumabog nang malakas," he explained.
(This means that the eruptions will not be that explosive compared to that in January 2020 where the magma rose fast, so the gas was not released and the magma was trapped, thus the strong eruption.)
Taal Volcano has had increased activity since its last major eruption in January 2020 that prompted Phivolcs to place it on Alert Level 4 at that time. The said alert level warns of a hazardous explosive eruption possibly within hours to days.
After that, it was last placed under Alert Level 3 on Jan. 26, 2020, and also on July 2021 following five eruptions, but was later lowered to Alert Level 2 on July 23.
The volcano had nine phreatomagmatic bursts on its main crater last January.
— with reports from Dennis Datu, Raffy Cabristante and Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News