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Thousands evacuate as Taal Volcano rumbles


 

Taal residents stay at an evacuation center in Talisay, Batangas after Taal Volcano's phreatic eruption on Sunday, January 12, 2020. DANNY PATA
Taal residents stay at an evacuation center in Talisay, Batangas after Taal Volcano's phreatic eruption on Sunday, January 12, 2020. DANNY PATA

Taal Volcano's spewing of a massive cloud of ash into the sky on Sunday has forced the precautionary evacuation of thousands of residents, authorities said.

Government seismologists recorded magma moving towards the crater. On Sunday evening, Alert Level 4 was issued by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS). This means that a hazardous eruption is "imminent," or expected in hours or days.

PHIVOLCS chief Renato Solidum had earlier told AFP that the chances of an eruption that could happen "within days to within weeks" if such activity continues.

Taal's last eruption was in 1977,  he also said.

A kilometer-high column of ash was visible and several volcanic tremors were felt within the vicinity of the volcano, which is popular among tourists for its scenic view.

According to a Reuters report, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said that about 8,000 residents of areas near the volcano were being evacuated, with around 6,000 out of the danger zone by Sunday evening.

In a tweet on Sunday, the NDRRMC also advised residents in the danger zone to heed authorities' advisories on evacuation.

 

 

Solidum said officials will also order the evacuation of people living on another island nearby if the situation worsens.

Ash fall in Metro Manila

The ash from the volcano has reached nearby provinces and parts of Metro Manila, with local governments suspending classes for Monday.

The Manila International Airport Authority has also suspended flights to and from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Number coding for Monday has been lifted in Metro Manila as well.

Earthquakes and volcanic activity are not uncommon in the Philippines due to its position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where tectonic plates collide deep below the Earth's surface.

In January 2018, Mount Mayon displaced tens of thousands of people after spewing millions of metric tons of ash, rocks, and lava in the central Bicol region. — Agence France-Presse

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