- The authorities in the surrounding province, Batangas, have declaired a “state of calamity,” signifying major disruption.
- The volcanic ash also forced Manila’s international airport to suspend all flights on Sunday.
- Earthquakes and volcanic activity are not uncommon in the Philippines, which lies along the Ring of Fire.
A volcano in the Philippines has begun spewing lava as the authorities warn that a hazardous eruption is possible “within hours and days.” Early Monday morning, a weak flow of lava began seeping out of Taal volcano, some 70 kilometers (45 miles) south of the capital, Manila. This came after it emitted a huge plume ash, triggering the mass evacuation of 8,000 people from the area.
The authorities in the surrounding province, Batangas, have declaired a “state of calamity,” signifying major disruption. They have also warned of a possible “volcanic tsunami,” which can be triggered by falling debris after an eruption, pushing the water and generating waves. “Taal volcano entered a period of intense unrest . . . that progressed into magmatic eruption at 02.49 to 04.28 . . . this is characterized by weak lava fountaining accompanied by thunder and flashes of lighting,” the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said in a statement.
Phivolcs director Renato Solidum said that signs of a hazardous eruption, including “flows of ashes, gas at speeds of more than kph horizontally,” had not yet occurred, according to CNN Philippines. Phivolcs has now raised the alert level from 3 to 4, out of a maximum of 5. The Philippine stock exchange also announced it would halt all trading on Monday.
The volcanic ash also forced Manila’s international airport to suspend all flights on Sunday. Phivolcs has warned that the “airborne ash and ballistic fragments from the eruption . . . posed hazards to aircraft.” The Civil Aviation Authority announced later on Monday that it had resumed “partial operations,” as of 10:00 local time (02:00GMT), for flights departing the airport and 12:00 for arrivals. President Rodrigo Durtete’s office has also ordered the suspension of government work in Manila and the closure of all schools in the capital
Ash fell on several areas nearby with residents advised to wear masks. Angel Bautista, a resident in metro Manila, said the shops had run out of masks. “When I went to my car, I saw it was covered in ash. I hurriedly went to buy a mask from a drugstore but they had run out.” The government has warned retailers not to hike mask prices amid the surging demand.
Taal is the Philippines’ second most active volcano. It is situated in an island in the middle of a lake. It is one of the world’s smallest volcanoes, and has recorded at least 34 eruptions in the past 450 years. On Sunday, the volcano emitted a giant plume of ash, with rumbling sounds and tremors also reported.
The Official United Nations Office for the coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that more than 450,000 people are estimated to live within the 14-kilometer danger zone of the Taal volcano. Earthquakes and volcanic activity are not uncommon in the Philippines, which lies along the Ring of Fire, a zone of major seismic activity, which has one of the world’s most active fault lines.