Wed, Jan 15, 2020 - Page 1 News List

Philippine volcano trembles, spews lava 800m high

AP, TAGAYTAY, Philippines

People clear their roofs of volcanic ash in Laurel in the Philippines’ Batangas Province yesterday.

Photo: AP

A volcano near the Philippine capital spewed lava into the sky and trembled constantly yesterday, possibly portending a bigger and more dangerous eruption, as tens of thousands of people fled villages darkened and blanketed by heavy ash.

Government work was suspended and schools were closed in a number of towns and cities, including Manila, because of the health risks from the ash. Hundreds of flights were canceled or delayed, affecting tens of thousands of passengers.

The continuous restiveness of the Taal Volcano and several new fissures cracking the ground nearby likely means magma is rising and might result in further eruptive activity, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said.

The volcano was spurting fountains of red-hot lava 800m into the sky, and the massive column of ash and volcanic debris at times lit up with streaks of lightning.

The alert level has been 4 since the eruption began on Sunday, indicating a hazardous eruption is possible in hours to days. Level 5, the highest, means such an eruption is under way.

About 50 volcanic earthquakes were detected over eight hours yesterday, the institute said.

It also warned heavy and prolonged ash fall was possible in nearby villages.

“The speed in the rise of magma is important [in determining] when the volcano will have a strong eruption, and if it will slow down and freeze,” institute Director Renato Solidum said. “As of now, we don’t see activities slowing down and the earthquakes still continue.”

The picturesque volcano in the middle of a lake in Batangas province south of Manila rumbled to life on Sunday in a powerful explosion that blasted a 15km column of ash, steam and rock into the sky.

Clouds of volcanic ash blowing over Manila, 65km to the north, closed Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Sunday and part of Monday until the ash fall eased.

The disaster-response agency counted more than 40,000 evacuees in Batangas and Cavite provinces who took shelter in nearly 200 evacuation centers.

Officials expected the number to swell.

Solidum warned residents not to return to high-risk villages based on perceptions that the eruption was easing.

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