Schools begin to reopen in Tagaytay as Taal’s fury subsides

Steam pours from Volcano Taal on Sunday. <i>Photo: George Calvelo / ABS-CBN News </i>
Steam pours from Volcano Taal on Sunday. Photo: George Calvelo / ABS-CBN News

Nineteen schools have reopened in two villages in Tagaytay as state volcanologists today reported that Taal has quieted down. 

Two weeks after the restive volcano first erupted, some schools have reopened as new data from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology found emissions and quakes have fallen dramatically. 

The institute lowered Taal’s alert level to 3 on Sunday, from risk of imminent eruption to “high level” of volcanic activity. It noted that the number of daily quakes fell by nearly half from 944 to 420 between Jan. 17 and Friday. Only three earthquakes were recorded Monday, with the strongest a meager 2.2 magnitude. It also found sulfur dioxide emissions – a byproduct of magma near the surface – fell from 5,300 tons to an undetectable level as of yesterday.

Meanwhile, news show Umagang Kay Ganda reports that two villages in Tagaytay – Tubig and Sambong – which had been forced to evacuate, have allowed residents to return home, and 19 schools there reopened Monday.

Tagaytay Integrated School – one of the schools to reopen – also took in some 200 elementary and high school students evacuated from the towns of Agoncillo and Laurel in Batangas. 

“Weak to voluminous” emissions of steam plumes measuring up to 800 meters in the main crater persist, the institute noted this morning. It prohibits people from coming within 7 kilometers of the volcano’s main crater, closer than the previous 14-kilometer radius.

Read: ‘He was wearing slippers’: State volcanologists alarmed by dangerous stunt in viral vlog

State volcanologists still advise people living in Batangas and communities near the volcano to take precautions against falling ash, small quakes and cracks in the ground caused by moving lava. Mud is another threat, especially if heavy rain pours on the accumulated ash.

Still, residents have reportedly been able to return to feed and take care of abandoned pets and livestock though the threat of another evacuation remains.

Read: ‘When we went back on the road, we realized that was a mistake’: Photog recounts group’s escape from Taal eruption

State volcanologists urge the public to remain vigilant as an eruption is still possible despite the lowered alert status.

Renato Solidum Jr., volcanology institute director, told the press Friday there was a 30% chance Taal would see another full-blown eruption, a probability he stressed changes daily.

According to data this morning from disaster officials, nearly 105,000 families (almost 400,000 people) were affected by Taal’s eruption, most of whom reside in the Calabarzon region.

Taal’s total damage to the agriculture sector is estimated at over PHP3 billion (US$59 million), and two provinces – Batangas and Cavite – were forced to declare states of calamity in response.

 

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