GROUND fissures near the Taal Volcano are widening in four areas after the recent explosion, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) reported on Friday, January 17.
In its 8 a.m. update, Phivolcs said existing fissures or cracks in barangays located in the towns of Lemery, Agoncillo, Talisay, and San Nicolas have widened by a few centimeters.
Meanwhile, a new fissure has appeared on Daang Kastila, a trail of less than three kilometers from the main crater of the volcano that is regularly visited by tourists, according to Phivolcs.
The state seismic network previously explained that fissures indicate magma is rising at the volcano, causing ground deformation.
“Activity in the main crater in the past 24 hours has been characterized by steady steam emission and infrequent weak explosions that generated dark gray ash plumes 100 to 800 meters tall and dispersed ash southwest to [the] west of the main crater,” Phivolcs said.
“A steaming fissure has been newly observed on the northern slopes of Taal Volcano Island,” it added.
From 5 a.m. on Thursday, January 16, until 5 a.m. on Friday, a total of 65 volcanic earthquakes were recorded, two of which registered with magnitudes 1.3 to 3.1 and were both felt at Intensity I.
“Such intense seismic activity likely signifies continuous magmatic intrusion beneath the Taal edifice, which may lead to further eruptive activity,” Phivolcs noted on Thursday
The Taal Volcano remains under Alert Level 4, which means a hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.
Gov’t to ban people from returning to Taal Volcano Island
The Philippine government has decided to permanently ban people from returning to Taal Volcano island.
“People could no longer be allowed to go back there because they will be at risk if there will be another explosion there,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in Filipino on Tuesday, January 14.
He added that President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommendation.
The province of Cavite on Wednesday declared a state of calamity due to the effects of the eruption.
According to Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla, no deaths have been reported in the province and there is “very little damage to property…outside of the ashfall,” but the funds are needed for evacuees from neighboring Batangas.
He said that P15 million has been allocated mainly to “support the evacuation centers” located in Alfonso and Tagaytay City. There will also be evacuation centers opening in Dasmariñas City on Thursday.
“We have put care packages consisting of rice, canned goods, infant formula, diapers, and medicines,” Remulla said.
“Our provincial hospital staff have been deployed to assist all the evacuees,” he added.
Cavite has taken in around 15,000 people from Batangas.
Under a state of calamity, the local government would be able to tap emergency funds for relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction, recovery and other works or services to mitigate the effects of the disaster and stabilize the situation in the disaster-stricken areas.