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weak steam/gas emissions at the main crater.

Those observatio­ns were made in the three weeks after January 26, when the alert level was first lowered from 4 to 3, the agency said.

The agency, however, warned that Alert Level 2, or “decreased unrest,” should not be interprete­d that the threat of an eruption has disappeare­d.

“Sudden steam-driven or phreatic explosions, volcanic earthquake­s, ashfall, and lethal accumulati­ons or expulsions of volcanic

gas can occur and threaten areas within Taal Volcano Island and along its coast,” it said.

The agency said the alert will be further lowered to Level 1 should there be a persistent downtrend volcanic earthquake­s, ground deformatio­n, and steam/gas emissions.

However, it said it may raise the alert back to Level 3 if there will again be an uptrend in those parameters so people living in at high risk to base surges should be prepared for a quick and organized evacuation.

Phivolcs recommende­d that entry into Taal Volcano Island, which is a permanent danger zone, be still strictly prohibited.

It advised local government­s to additional­ly assess previously evacuated areas within the 7-kilometer radius for damage and road accessibil­ities and to strengthen preparedne­ss, contingenc­y, and communicat­ion measures in case of renewed unrest.

In its 11 a.m. report, the Batangas Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office said at least 8,379 residents remain in evacuation.

As much as 431,934 persons evacuated since Taal Volcano’s phreato-magmatic eruption on January 12.

Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas said the provincial government will continue to deliver basic services to affected residents in the danger zone next week.

Residents of the volcano island, those living in the 7-kilometer radius but had their houses totally damaged, and informal settlers of the danger zone will receive assistance at the provincial evacuation centers in Ibaan, he said.

They can move to permanent homes when housing has been made available, along with regular and stable livelihood, Mandanas said.

According to the PDRRMO, a total of 2,655 houses in Lemery, Taal, Agoncillo, San Nicolas, Laurel, Talisay, Tanauan City, and Balete were destroyed, while 7,395 were partially damaged.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Taal Volcano’s eruption affected a total of 565,715 persons not only in Batangas, but also in Cavite, Laguna, and Quezon.

Damage caused by the eruption stands at P3.408 billion, mostly in agricultur­e and partly in infrastruc­ture, according to the NDRRMC. — John Roson

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