MANILA, Philippines – With the downgrading of Taal Volcano's status to Alert Level 3, marking a "decreased tendency towards hazardous eruption," the Batangas provincial government lifted lockdowns it earlier imposed on 12 cities and municipalities, or on their portions that lie within the volcano's danger zone.
Residents of these places are now given the option to return to their homes although they are still welcome to stay in evacuation centers, said Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas in a media briefing on Sunday morning, January 26.
The following are the cities and towns where lockdowns are lifted:
However, the following areas remain on lockdown as they lie within the 7-kilometer radius of the volcano's main crater. This means people are still prohibited from entering these places:
Eruption still possible
Although residents of areas where the lockdown is lifted may already return, they must be constantly alert and ready to evacuate within one hour of notice, in case Taal Volcano's activity escalates again and the status is raised to Alert Level 4.
Taal Volcano may still erupt, the provincial government stressed.
The chance of a hazardous eruption remains, said the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) when it lowered Taal's status to Alert Level 3 on Sunday morning.
Phivolcs also warned of the likely occurrence of lahar or heavy mudflow coming from areas right beside Cavite province, and in elevated areas in Agoncillo and Laurel towns in Batangas.
Rain or volcanic tremors may disturb stored volcanic ash in these areas, and cause it to flow toward lowlands and waterways.
Residents must take care when returning to areas heavily affected by ashfall. Unstable structures, slippery roads, fissures, and the lack of running water and electricity increase the risk of physical injuries. – Rappler.com
JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.