STATE volcanologists lowered Taal Volcano’s alert status to level 2 on Friday, citing “diminished plume activity.”

The lower status does not mean “unrest has ceased or that the threat of an eruption has disappeared,” the The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said on its website.

Residents in high-risk areas must be prepared for a quick and organized evacuation in case the volcano acts up again, the agency said.

Taal’s alert status reached the second-highest level at No. 4 last month as state volcanologists warned of an impending hazardous eruption.

It was lowered to level 3 on Jan. 26

More than 151,000 families in Batangas, Quezon, Laguna, and Cavite provinces were affected by Taal Volcano’s eruption starting on Jan. 12, the local disaster agency said in a 6 a.m. report on Friday.

About 3,000 families were taking temporary shelter in 76 evacuation centers, while 53,826 were staying outside, it said.

The volcano emitted a giant ash plume that covered many cities near the capital, forcing financial markets to suspend trading and the Manila airport to close. — Genshen L. Espedido