Wary Residents Return to Homes Near Volcano in Philippines

Wary Residents Return to Homes Near Volcano in Philippines

MANILA — Thousands of people displaced by the threat of eruptions from the Taal Volcano have begun returning home after the Philippine authorities said the danger had subsided.

Their return comes after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology on Sunday lowered the alert level because of reduced activity in Taal’s main crater.

Taal, located on an island in a freshwater lake 40 miles south of Manila, began rumbling on Jan. 12. Within hours, Taal, the second most active volcano in the Philippines, rained sulfurous ash across the island, sending nearly 100,000 people in nearby towns fleeing. Officials said more than 390,000 people were ultimately forced into evacuation centers or ended up staying with relatives after being ordered from their homes.

But residents returning to their homes said they remained wary.

“We moved back all the farm animals yesterday when the alert level was lowered,” said Emer Siscar, a poultry farmer. “Everyone’s happy, but it isn’t over yet. It looks like we now have a more active volcano going forward.”

The authorities are continuing to strictly prohibit human activity within a four-mile radius around the volcano. And the volcano institute said on Monday morning that “volcanic earthquakes, ashfall and lethal volcanic gas expulsions can still occur and threaten areas within Taal Volcano island and nearby lakeshores.”

Richard Calinisan, who returned to his home in Laurel, said he had “no more source of income,” after finding his “fishpens already gone.”

Jes Anzar contributed reporting from Laurel, the Philippines.

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