Red-hot lava spewed from a volcano near the Philippine capital of Manila yesterday. Tens of thousands of people fled through heavy ash and alarming tremors. Authorities are evacuating hundreds of thousands more for fear of a bigger eruption to come.
One of the world’s smallest volcanoes, the Taal volcano rumbled back to life on Sunday. It blasted steam, ash, and pebbles six to nine miles into the sky, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. Clouds of ash reached Manila, 40 miles away. There were no immediate reports of any deaths or major damage blamed directly on the eruption.
The Philippines lies in the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a region prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Experts consider Taal the country’s second most restless active volcano.
Yesterday, lava fountains spurted about half a mile before falling into the lake waters surrounding the main crater. Lava also spewed from another vent north of the main crater, says Renato Solidum, head of the institute. He warns that a major and much more dangerous eruption could still happen.
More than 30,000 villagers fled their homes. Officials expect that number to swell.
Some residents could not immediately flee their ash-blanketed villages because of a lack of transportation and poor visibility. Others refused to leave their homes and farms.
“We have a problem. Our people are panicking due to the volcano because they want to save their livelihood, their pigs and herds of cows,” says Mayor Wilson Maralit of the town of Balete. “We’re trying to stop them from returning and warning that the volcano can explode again any time and hit them.”
Balete lies along the shoreline of Taal Lake, which surrounds the volcano. The town appealed for troops and more police to stop people from sneaking back to their villages.
(A family rides through clouds of ash, evacuating to safer ground on Monday, January 13, 2020. AP Photo/Aaron Favila)