Thousands flee as volcano erupts in the Philippines, Manila airport closed
Source: NBC News
TAGAYTAY, Philippines A small volcano south of the Philippine capital that draws many tourists for its picturesque setting in a lake erupted with a massive plume of ash and steam Sunday, prompting thousands of people to flee and officials to shut Manilas international airport.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said Taal Volcano in Batangas province south of Manila blasted steam, ash and pebbles up to 6 to 9 miles into the sky in a dramatic escalation of its growing restiveness, which began last year.
The volcanology institute raised the danger level around Taal three notches on Sunday to level 4, indicating a hazardous eruption may happen within hours or days, said Renato Solidum, who heads the volcanology institute. Level 5, the highest, means a hazardous eruption is underway and could affect a larger area.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, but authorities scrambled to evacuate more than 6,000 villagers from an island in the middle of a lake, where the volcano lies, and tens of thousands more from nearby coastal towns, officials said.
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Philippines: lava gushes from Taal volcano as alert level raised
Red-hot lava has gushed out of a volcano in the Philippines after a sudden eruption of ash and steam that forced villagers to flee en masse and shut down the countrys main airport, offices and schools.
Clouds of ash blew more than 62 miles (100km) north of the Taal volcano, reaching the bustling capital, Manila, and forcing the the international main airport to close and cancel more than 500 flights.
There have been no reports of casualties or major damage from the eruption that began Sunday.
What is the worst that can happen?
The 1754 eruptions were so powerful they altered the areas geography. Taal Lake was an inlet leading out to the sea but the eruptions blocked the channel, turning the inlet into a lake and resulting in the seawater eventually becoming fresh water.
Another eruption in 1911 was preceded by two days of earthquakes. According to science author Maria Elena Paterna, a gigantic explosion, followed a day later by several more, could be heard 200km away. The eruption killed 1,335 people in a few minutes.