A small volcano near the Philippines’ capital Manila has erupted, prompting authorities to raise the alert level and urge thousands of residents to evacuate from high-risk villages.
The 311m Taal volcano, located in a scenic lake in Batangas province, belched a white plume of steam and ash 1.5km into the sky in a brief explosion on Saturday.
Magma came into contact with water in the main crater, setting off the steam-driven blast that was accompanied by volcanic earthquakes, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said.
The institute raised the alarm at Taal to the third level in a five-step warning system, meaning ‘there is magmatic intrusion at the main crater that may further drive succeeding eruptions’.
Residents of five lakeside villages in the Batangas towns of Agoncillo and Laurel were warned of possible hazards, including fast-moving gas and molten materials and ‘volcanic tsunami’ in the volcanic lake, and were urged to evacuate to safer areas.
Laurel Mayor Joan Amo said about 8,000 residents in high-risk villages in her town were ready to be moved to safety if the volcanic unrest continues.
‘It was a powerful burst but now the volcano has calmed down,’ she said.
Renato Solidum of the government’s volcanology institute said it was not yet clear if there would be further activity at the volcano, or if it would settle down.
He said if there was no escalation or the trend was downward after two weeks of close monitoring, the institute may decide to lower the alert level.
For more information, go to www.abc.net.au/news/2022-03-26/taal-volcano-philippines-erupts-steam-ash/100942132