Mass evacuation underway as Philippines raises danger level for Taal volcano

Mass evacuation underway as Philippines raises danger level for Taal volcano

MANILA – Authorities in the Philippines began evacuating thousands of people on Thursday after a state of alert was raised over a turbulent volcano that spat a 0.62-mile-high plume of gas and steam.

The alert for the Taal volcano, about 70 km (45 miles) south of central Manila, has been raised to level 3 from level 2 on the 5-level scale, which, according to the Seismology and volcanology, meant a “magmatic intrusion” into the main crater. “could lead more to successive eruptions”.

Taal is one of the smallest active volcanoes in the world. Although it is only 1,020 feet tall, it can be fatal, and an eruption in 1911 killed more than 1,300 people.

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In January last year, Taal fired a column of ash and steam nearly 10 miles into the sky, forcing more than 100,000 people to abandon their homes, widespread flight cancellations and heavy falls of ashes in Manila.

While the situation could go one way or the other, authorities warned Thursday that the type of eruption could potentially be more dangerous than that of last year.

The water in the Taal crater boiled before and after its eruption, a video posted on the seismology agency’s Facebook page showed.

The magma came into contact with the water in the crater, which then turned into gas and vapor, known as a phreatomagmatic eruption.

“The phreatomagmatics is more dangerous because there is already an interaction with the magma,” Maria Antonia Bornas, head of the agency’s eruption monitoring and forecasting division, told a press conference.

The towns of Agoncillo and Laurel, located on the lake surrounding the Taal volcano, were in danger of eruption and volcanic tsunami, the seismology agency said.

The National Disaster Bureau has warned of earthquakes linked to the eruptions.

The evacuation of Agoncillo began in the late afternoon, said Batangas province governor Hermilando Mandanas, with 3,523 families or 14,495 people to be moved to safe areas.

Dump trucks were dispatched to help and pay loaders and evacuation centers were being prepared, he added.