Philippines volcano eruption: Airports suspend flight operations

Photo: Aaron Favilaz Associate Press.

Taal Volcano in Batangas province south of Manila that draws tourists for its picturesque setting in a lake erupted with a massive plume of ash and steam on 12th January 2020. The eruption prompted the evacuation of tens of thousands of people and forced Manila’s international airport to shut down.

Taal locates 66 kilometers south of Manila.

Photo: Associate Press.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said “Taal Volcano in Batangas province south of Manila blasted steam, ash and pebbles up to 10 to 15 kilometers into the sky in a dramatic escalation of its growing restiveness, which began last year.”

The volcanology institute raised the danger level around Taal three notches on Sunday to level 4, indicating “a hazardous eruption may happen within hours or days,” said Renato Solidum, one of the leaders at the volcanology institute. Level 5, the highest, means a hazardous eruption is underway and could affect a larger area.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, but authorities scrambled to evacuate more than 6,000 villagers from an island in the middle of a lake, where the volcano lies, and tens of thousands more from nearby coastal towns, officials said. About 300,000 people were targeted to be moved to safety in Batangas overnight and in the next few days.

Aviation officials also ordered the closure of Clark International Airport north of the capital after ash fell in the area. Authorities said they were considering diverting flights to unaffected airports outside Manila.

Norwegian Tonny Roger, who had flown to the Philippines to visit his wife, said he wasn’t happy that his flight back to Norway was canceled, but he thought of the bright side.

“Well, I can see her more. I will go back to her now,” he told The Associated Press at Manila’s international airport.

Photo: Jez Aznar.

The volcanology institute reminded the public that the small island where the volcano lies is a “permanent danger zone,” although fishing villages have existed there for years. It asked nearby coastal communities “to take precautionary measures and be vigilant of possible lake water disturbances related to the ongoing unrest.”

Children cover themselves with large plastic bags to protect from volcanic dust mix with rainwater. Photo: Ezra Acayan

Heavy to light ashfall was reported in towns and cities several kilometers (miles) from the volcano, and officials advised residents to stay indoors and don masks and goggles for safety. Motorists were hampered by poor visibility, which was worsened by rainy weather.

At around 1pm on 14th January 2020, an official warning on hazardous level of the situation remain on number 4

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