Taal Volcano Spews Lava, Ash in Philippines
By Staff, Agencies
A day after rumbling to life, the Taal Volcano in the central Philippines began to spew lava on Monday – and officials warn that eruptions could last months or even years. The volcano is located in the Batangas province and is the country's second most active volcano.
As the Taal Volcano began to spew ash and smoke on Sunday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology [PHIVOLCS] raised its status to an Alert Level 4, indicating a hazardous eruption is possible within hours to days. The alert system has five levels with Alert Level 5 meaning a hazardous eruption is in progress.
A weak lava flow was emitted from the active volcano for an hour and a half early Monday morning, according to PHIVOLCS. The volcano was only spewing smoke and ash on Sunday. Officials said that this does not necessarily mean the volcano has entered the "hazardous explosive eruption" phase yet.
"We haven't seen yet the hazards of the 1965, 1911, and 1754 eruption manifested in Taal Volcano. [If it is a hazardous eruption], we will see flows of ashes, rocks, gas at speeds of more than 60 kph [37 mph] horizontally and that can move across the lake," PHIVOLCS Director Renato Solidum told CNN Philippines.
Metro Manila, located about 101 km [63 miles] north of the volcano, was among several communities where ash fell from the sky and blanketed the ground.
"Southerly winds are helping to carry volcanic ash north across northern Luzon," stated AccuWeather Meteorologist Maura Kelly. "Winds across the northern Philippines are forecast to turn out of the northeast throughout the day on Monday, which can help to gradually direct the ash plume out over the South China Sea and away from Manila."
"Outside of isolated showers and thunderstorms, mainly dry conditions are expected across Luzon through the beginning of the week. A tropical disturbance to the east of the Philippines will be pulled north and east, away from the area," Kelly added.
"Fine ashfall can cause irritation and breathing problems especially among the elderly and children and it is particularly dangerous to our health," PHIVOLCS said. "Affected populations are advised to protect their mouths and noses using N95 grade facemasks or wet cloth or towel. Motorists are advised to drive with extreme caution as ash can cause poor visibility, and, when wet, can make roads slippery."
Officials say the active volcano could continue to erupt several times over the next few months or even years, prolonging concerns of negative health effects.
About 300,000 people in the Batangas province have been urged to move to safety over the next few days, according to The Associated Press.
Weather satellites caught the plume of ash and smoke as it was ejected up to 50,000 feet into the air. Lightning strikes were captured on camera in the towering plume.
Thousands of passengers were stranded at Manila's international airport after it was temporarily closed due to safety concerns. Partial operations resumed around midday Monday, but passengers are advised to check with their airlines to confirm flights before heading to the airport.
Cameras monitoring the volcano caught the volcano coming to life around the midday hours of Sunday.
The last major eruption of the Taal Volcano occurred in 1977.