The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alert level to four out of five, warning that another dangerous eruption could occur at any time. However, residents have defied the agency’s warnings for years, violating laws against the establishment of homes in areas of permanent danger on the island.
The area was declared protected by the government and then became a national park, which means it should be beyond the reach of permanent settlers. However, that was never enforced and destructive volcano explosions have proved deadly in the past, killing more than 200 people in 1965.
Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana warned that the “worst scenario” for Taal could be similar to the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, 90 miles north, which killed 800 people and left 200,000 homeless in 1991.
“We can never predict the actions of this volcano,” he said.