Philippines on alert after Taal volcano awakens
It had not erupted since 1977. But since Sunday, the Philippines has been on the alert because of the Taal volcano, which woke up on Sunday by pouring out a cloud of ash and small rocks, changing the nature of the eruption which has become more dangerous. Lavender fountains over 750 m were seen in the morning of Monday between 2 a.m. 49 and 4h 28. Mixing with the fires, lightnings could be observed sporadically above the volcano.
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According to geologists, the volcano remains active, spitting incandescent lava some 500 m high from new cracks that have opened on its northern flank , accompanied by earthquakes. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has raised the alert level from 3 to 4 out of a maximum of 5. The risk of an explosive eruption has been announced in the coming hours or days.
According to the Phivolcs, the seismic activity of the volcano could last 3 days, like 7 months. Taal, which is located on the “ring of fire”, a major systemic area on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, had not erupted since 34 years, but volcanic activities had been recorded in 2011, 2012 and 2014. Authorities have also warned of a possible “volcanic tsunami,” which could be caused by falling debris in the sea.
Taal is the smallest volcano in the world, but 34 volcanic eruptions have been recorded in 450 years. It is located in the middle of a lake 65 km from Manila, capital of the Philippines.
The eruption has started Sunday by an explosion of pressurized water vapor and rock, with a column of 15 km high pouring rain from ashes to Manila. 8000 people were evacuated, and a security perimeter of 14 km, or 450 000 people would live, was installed around the Taal. “We are really afraid of what can happen to us (…), that our house may collapse in a big earthquake and be all killed,” said Bienvenido Musa, a resident of the area, to AFP. 56 years old. According to a local official, at least 20 000 people took refuge in evacuation centers.
The authorities have also alerted to the risk of irritation and respiratory problems that these fine particles could cause. The landscapes are drowned in this ash snow as far as Manila so that the wearing of a facial mask is recommended. Some Manila stores are already out of stock.
The country is at a standstill. Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport was closed on Sunday because of the risk of aircraft obstructing ash, causing the cancellation of 240 flights. Its activity resumed on Monday between 10 h and 12 h, but it had to close, the ash deposits having made the track impassable. Schools in the capital also remained closed, as did the stock market. Even the government has announced the suspension of its work in Manila.