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Ashfall reaches Manila as Taal Volcano erupts, prompts evacuations in the Philippines

2020-01-12 02:00:34

The Taal Volcano in the central Philippines rumbled to life on Sunday, spewing ash and prompting evacuations in nearby communities — and officials warn that a more powerful eruption is imminent. The volcano is located on the island of Luzon and is the country’s second most active volcano.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) raised the status of the Taal Volcano to an Alert Level 4 late Sunday, local time, indicating a hazardous eruption is possible within hours to days. The volcano was at an Alert Level 1 on Sunday afternoon. The alert system has five levels with Alert Level 5 meaning a hazardous eruption is in progress.

“As of 5:30 p.m. PST (1730H), eruptive activity at Taal Volcano Main Crater intensified as continuous eruption generated a tall 10-15 kilometer [32,808-49,212 foot] steam-laden tephra column with frequent volcanic lightning that rained wet ashfall on the general north as far as Quezon City,” PHIVOLCS said in a statement. They added that two volcanic earthquakes of magnitudes 2.5 and 3.9 were felt in Tagaytay City and Alitagtag, Batangas.

Ashfall was reported in metro Manila, located about 101 km (63 miles) north of the volcano, on Sunday evening, according to CNN Philippines.

Due to the eruption, all flights, both arrival and departures, at Ninoy Aquino International Airport are now on hold. Passengers are advised to coordinate with their respective airlines for flight updates.

All classes within the provinces of Cavite and Batangas will be canceled on Monday, Jan. 13. due to heavy ashfall. Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno has also ordered the suspension of classes in all levels of public and private schools on Monday.

Evacuations are underway for an unknown number of people in the municipalities of San Nicolas, Balete and Talisay, according to The Philippine Star.

“Magma is intruding from below. If eventually this will continue to move up, then there can be a magmatic eruption which is more dangerous,” Renato Soldium, PHIVOLCS officer-in-charge, told CNN Philippines.

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Cameras monitoring the volcano caught ash spewing from the crater around the midday hours of Sunday.

“The public is reminded that the main crater should be strictly off limits because sudden steam explosions can occur and high concentrations of lethal volcanic gases can be released,” PHIVOLCS said. “In addition, communities around the Taal Lakeshore are advised to take precautionary measures and be vigilant of possible lake-water disturbances related to the ongoing unrest.”

A moderate to high level of seismic activity has been observed in the vicinity since March 28, 2019, according to PHIVOLCS. The agency reported three earthquake events as of early Sunday afternoon.

“A seismic swarm has started at around 11:00 a.m. and ongoing as of 2:10 p.m. Sunday,” PHIVOLCS said.

The last major eruption of the Taal Volcano occurred in 1977.




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