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Tourism restricted in Taal

Phivolcs raises Alert Level 1 after series of volcanic earthquakes, signs of restiveness
/ 05:10 AM March 30, 2019

DECEPTIVE CALM The lake around Taal volcano, home to “tawilis,” draws tourists regularly but recent signs of the volcano’s restiveness prompted restrictions in tourism activities. —CLIFFORD NUÑEZ

SAN PEDRO CITY— Tourism activities on Taal volcano island were restricted after the government raised an alert status over the volcano.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Thursday raised Alert Level 1 for the active volcano after a series of quakes.

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It has been about five years since the volcano, sitting in the middle of Taal Lake, showed signs of restiveness that warranted an alert status.

Ricardo Ceda, Phivolcs science aide at the Taal Observatory, on Friday said monitors recorded 50 volcanic earthquakes since March 22.

No imminent eruption

In a bulletin issued on Friday, Phivolcs said it has monitored three more volcanic earthquakes in the last 24 hours. Water temperature in the main crater lake has also increased by one degree from 30.7 degree Celsius.

“This means that hazardous eruption is not imminent,” Phivolcs said.

But visits to the island and lake were restricted because of the possibility of steam explosions and emission of toxic gases, according to Phivolcs.

It said the northern portion of the main crater rim, especially the Daang Kastila trail in Talisay, Batangas, may become hazardous due to steam emissions.

The main crater, one of 40 in the Taal caldera, was responsible for major eruptions in 1749, 1754, 1911 and 1965.

Limited

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The entire volcano island, some 2,475 hectares in area, is a permanent danger zone although there are still about 10,000 people living on the island’s fringes for many decades.

Renato Solidum Jr., Phivolcs head, in February said a major eruption may affect 100,000 to 200,000 people in Batangas and adjacent provinces and trigger ashfall that may reach Metro Manila.

Lito Castro of the Batangas Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said the regional council was set to meet next week to firm up contingency plans for a possible eruption.

He said officials would “limit” tourist activities in the main crater, including trekking or horseback riding near the crater lake.

In 2018, surrounding towns of Talisay recorded 580,286 visitors while Balete town recorded 2,180 visitors to the Taal volcano and lake.

Alert Level 1, Castro said in a phone interview, “does not mean there’s imminent danger.”

He said that while the main crater should be “strictly off-limits, the reality is that some people would still try to find a way to slip in.”

“That’s a challenge to us and the LGUs (local government units),” he said.

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TAGS: Earthquakes, Phivolcs, restricted, Taal, Taal Lake, Taal Volcano, Tourism
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