A volcano near the Philippine capital of Manila spewed lava fountains and dark ash clouds on Monday as authorites warned of a “hazardous explosive eruption” in the coming days. At least one person died in a road accident caused by zero-visibility from falling ash from Taal Volcano in Batangas province, 66 kilometres south of Manila.
The volcano began spewing ash and steam on Sunday. Since then, some 45,000 residents have evacuated high-risk areas, and officials estimated that at least 200,000 residents could be forced to flee if the eruption worsens. “Weak sporadic lava fountaining” reportedly started at 2:49 am Monday (1849 GMT Sunday) and continued throughout the day, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.
Activity from Taal Volcano’s main crater also “generated steam-laden plumes approximately 2 kilometres tall,” Phivolcs said its latest bulletin. “This is the kind of situation wherein although we have been preparing, it is not enough,” said Batangas provincial governor Hermilando Mandanas.
“We are praying,” he added Roads, houses, vehicles, trees and other infrastructure in affected towns were covered in ash that transformed into sludge following rainfall. Residents covered in ash were seen rushing to get into trucks, mini-buses and other vehicles, while some were forced to walk to get to safer areas.
Most hotels, restaurants and other commercial establishments in the affected towns have been closed. Many tourists have evacuated, and some hotels that are still open have received cancellations. “Rest assured that we’re monitoring the situation and following government advisories,” said Richard Gamlin, general manager of Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay City, a tourist destination overlooking Taal Volcano.
“We have a trained emergency response team, a 24-hour nurse and clinic, generators that can last for weeks,” he added.Phivolcs raised the alert at the Taal Volcano to level four, which signifies that “a hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours or days.”
DPA, 13TH JANUARY, 2020