Taal Volcano in Batangas province, 66km south of Manila, began ejecting huge dark clouds of ash and steam on January 12 and later on spewed lava fountains, forcing more than 376,000 people to flee their homes in surrounding towns.
Thirty-nine people died due to illness while in evacuation centres and accidents caused by thick ash fall, according to the provincial government. The authorities did not specify how many of those deaths were directly related to the volcano.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) issued a bulletin lowering the alert status, and noting that the Taal Volcano's condition in the past three weeks has been characterized by "less frequent volcanic earthquake activity, stabilising ground deformation ... and weak steam/gas emissions at the main crater."
The institute noted that while the overall trend was decreasing unrest, it "should not be interpreted that unrest has ceased or that the threat of an eruption has disappeared."
Phivolcs first lowered the alert at Taal Volcano from level 4 to level 3 on January 26.
Taal Volcano, the second most active volcano in the Philippines, has erupted 33 times since 1572.
Its last eruption was in October 1977, but it showed signs of unrest between 2008 and 2011, as well as in 2019. - dpa/Asian News Network
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