Taal volcano: Fears of imminent ‘explosive eruption’ as new cracks spotted in surface – The Independent

Taal volcano: Fears of imminent ‘explosive eruption’ as new cracks spotted in surface – The Independent

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Cracks are emerging around the volcano that spewed lava and plumes of ash near the Philippine capital on Sunday, raising the likelihood of an imminent major eruption.

That’s the verdict of experts at the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, or Phivolcs, which said the threat level from the Taal volcano south of Manila remained at level 4 on Tuesday – one short of an active eruption.

At a news conference, Phivolcs experts explained that while surface activity had slowed, there were clear indications that magma – molten rock in the Earth’s crust – continued to rise up from below. The signs, said chief scientist Maria Antonia Bornas, were similar to those in a major 1911 event “before it progressed into a climactic or explosive eruption”. The 1911 eruption killed about 1,500 people.

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Successive strong earthquakes – about 50 volcanic tremors – were detected over eight hours on Tuesday. This also indicated rising magma, Bornas said. The message to the public, she said, was that the danger had not necessarily eased just because surface activity had slowed, and the appearance of fissuring cracks was particularly worrying. 

Nonetheless, Manila’s mayor announced that schools, which have been suspended since Sunday, would reopen on Wednesday, and while ashfall affected more than 500 domestic and international flights, the main airport at Manila has been back in operation since Monday afternoon.

Shape Created with Sketch. Philippines Taal volcano: Eruption in photos

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Shape Created with Sketch. Philippines Taal volcano: Eruption in photos

1/44

Lightning strikes as a column of ash surrounds the crater of Taal Volcano as it erupts in Tagaytay, Philippines

Getty

2/44

Pacific Press via Sipa/Rex

3/44

Local authorities have begun evacuating residents near Taal Volcano as it began spewing ash up to a kilometer high

Getty

4/44

Pacific Press via Sipa/Rex

5/44

People take photos of a phreatic explosion from the Taal volcano as seen from the town of Tagaytay in Cavite province, southwest of Manila

AFP

6/44 Billows of smoke with lightning is seen from the eruption

Pacific Press via Zuma Wire/Rex

7/44 Residents stand lakeside as the volcano erupts behind them

Getty

8/44 A family rides their motorcycle through clouds of ash as they evacuate to safer grounds

AP

9/44 Lightning streak over Batangas

Pacific Press via Sipa/Rex

10/44

The tiny volcano near the Philippine capital draws many tourists for its picturesque setting, however as it belched steam, ash and rocks in a huge plume thousands were forced to flee and officials to temporarily suspend flights

AP

11/44 Ashfall after the eruption of the Taal volcano

Jerome Austria Abuan via Reuters

12/44 Villagers evacuate

EPA

13/44 Taal volcano erupts

Reuters

14/44 Lightning flashes as Taal Volcano erupts

The Philippine Institute of of Volcanology and Seismology has raised the alert level to four out of five, warning that a hazardous eruption could take place anytime

AP

15/44 A dog left in a garage covered with ashes barks nearby the erupting Taal Volcano

Reuters

16/44 A volcanic lightning caused by eruption

@DERRICKQUIBAEL via REUTERS

17/44 Ash from the Taal volcano in the air, with a church in the foreground

Renz Lejarso Guevara/AFP

18/44 A column of ash surrounds the crater of Taal Volcano

Getty

19/44 Residents stand lakeside as the volcano erupts behind them

Getty

20/44 Lightning strikes over Taal Volcano

AP

21/44 Residents walk along a road covered in ash mixed with rainwater

Getty

22/44 Lightning strikes over Taal Volcano

EPA

23/44 Villagers take shelter inside a church during the eruption

EPA

24/44 A volcanic lightning caused by eruption

@DERRICKQUIBAEL via Reuters

25/44 Taal volcano erupts

AFP via Getty

26/44 Lightning strikes over Taal Volcano

Getty

27/44 A policeman walks past a police vehicle covered in ash

Getty

28/44 A fishing boat sails along a lake as Taal Volcano erupts

Getty

29/44 A vehicle covered in ash

Getty

30/44 An ash column from erupting Taal Volcano looms over Tagaytay city

EPA

31/44 Lightning strikes over Taal Volcano

Getty

32/44 A resident splashes water on a vehicle covered in ash

Getty

33/44 Taal volcano spews ash and smoke

AP

34/44 A person on a canoe while the volcano spews ash

AFP via Getty

35/44 Residents walk along a road covered in ash mixed with rainwater

Getty

36/44 Taal volcano erupts

JPL YEN via Reuters

37/44 Lightning strikes over Taal Volcano

EPA

38/44 A worker hoses down plants covered with mud and ash

AFP via Getty

39/44 Residents evacuate

Reuters

40/44 Taal volcano erupts

AP

41/44 Taal Volcano erupts with a massive plume of ash and steam

Xinhua/Rex

42/44 Residents fleeing wait for a ride on the side of a highway

Getty

43/44 People travel along a road covered in ash

EPA

44/44 A massive plume of ash and steam erupts

AP

1/44

Lightning strikes as a column of ash surrounds the crater of Taal Volcano as it erupts in Tagaytay, Philippines

Getty

2/44

Pacific Press via Sipa/Rex

3/44

Local authorities have begun evacuating residents near Taal Volcano as it began spewing ash up to a kilometer high

Getty

4/44

Pacific Press via Sipa/Rex

5/44

People take photos of a phreatic explosion from the Taal volcano as seen from the town of Tagaytay in Cavite province, southwest of Manila

AFP

6/44 Billows of smoke with lightning is seen from the eruption

Pacific Press via Zuma Wire/Rex

7/44 Residents stand lakeside as the volcano erupts behind them

Getty

8/44 A family rides their motorcycle through clouds of ash as they evacuate to safer grounds

AP

9/44 Lightning streak over Batangas

Pacific Press via Sipa/Rex

10/44

The tiny volcano near the Philippine capital draws many tourists for its picturesque setting, however as it belched steam, ash and rocks in a huge plume thousands were forced to flee and officials to temporarily suspend flights

AP

11/44 Ashfall after the eruption of the Taal volcano

Jerome Austria Abuan via Reuters

12/44 Villagers evacuate

EPA

13/44 Taal volcano erupts

Reuters

14/44 Lightning flashes as Taal Volcano erupts

The Philippine Institute of of Volcanology and Seismology has raised the alert level to four out of five, warning that a hazardous eruption could take place anytime

AP

15/44 A dog left in a garage covered with ashes barks nearby the erupting Taal Volcano

Reuters

16/44 A volcanic lightning caused by eruption

@DERRICKQUIBAEL via REUTERS

17/44 Ash from the Taal volcano in the air, with a church in the foreground

Renz Lejarso Guevara/AFP

18/44 A column of ash surrounds the crater of Taal Volcano

Getty

19/44 Residents stand lakeside as the volcano erupts behind them

Getty

20/44 Lightning strikes over Taal Volcano

AP

21/44 Residents walk along a road covered in ash mixed with rainwater

Getty

22/44 Lightning strikes over Taal Volcano

EPA

23/44 Villagers take shelter inside a church during the eruption

EPA

24/44 A volcanic lightning caused by eruption

@DERRICKQUIBAEL via Reuters

25/44 Taal volcano erupts

AFP via Getty

26/44 Lightning strikes over Taal Volcano

Getty

27/44 A policeman walks past a police vehicle covered in ash

Getty

28/44 A fishing boat sails along a lake as Taal Volcano erupts

Getty

29/44 A vehicle covered in ash

Getty

30/44 An ash column from erupting Taal Volcano looms over Tagaytay city

EPA

31/44 Lightning strikes over Taal Volcano

Getty

32/44 A resident splashes water on a vehicle covered in ash

Getty

33/44 Taal volcano spews ash and smoke

AP

34/44 A person on a canoe while the volcano spews ash

AFP via Getty

35/44 Residents walk along a road covered in ash mixed with rainwater

Getty

36/44 Taal volcano erupts

JPL YEN via Reuters

37/44 Lightning strikes over Taal Volcano

EPA

38/44 A worker hoses down plants covered with mud and ash

AFP via Getty

39/44 Residents evacuate

Reuters

40/44 Taal volcano erupts

AP

41/44 Taal Volcano erupts with a massive plume of ash and steam

Xinhua/Rex

42/44 Residents fleeing wait for a ride on the side of a highway

Getty

43/44 People travel along a road covered in ash

EPA

44/44 A massive plume of ash and steam erupts

AP

The perception that the crisis was over represented a major challenge to agencies in the most-affected province of Batangas, said Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum.

“We have to make sure that people understand and, of course, government, that this is not an activity that will just be in a short while,” he said. 

Tens of thousands of people have fled villages darkened and blanketed by heavy ash from Taal, and government work was also suspended in a number of towns and cities over ash-related health risks. The official count of evacuees stood at just over 40,000 as of Tuesday evening, though that number is expected to rise.

And Save the Children estimated that 21,000 children alone had been evacuated from the 14km danger zone identified by the Philippines government.

The charity said it was “deeply concerned” for children who have been forced to leave their homes. They are missing out on school, and facing hunger and disease in “cramped and unsanitary” evacuation centres.

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Jerome Balinton, of the Save the Children Philippines, said the children “have no idea when or even if they will be able to return to their homes”.

He told The Independent in a statement: “Our humanitarian team have just visited an arena now doubling up as an evacuation centre and it was heart-breaking. 

“More than 900 people are sleeping on the cold, hard surface without mats. Due to sudden evacuation, people were not able to bring blankets, hygiene essentials, mosquito nets, and supplies for babies such as diapers.”

One Philippines NGO donated 3,000 pollution masks to be distributed by the armed forces to affected regions, according to local media reports.

Balay Mindanaw brought 25 crates full of N95 filter face masks to Batangas after hearing reports that supplies in local markets had run out, manager Leonardo Bautista told ABS-CBN.

President Rodrigo Duterte visited Batangas on Tuesday, after it was declared a disaster zone so that emergency funds could be more quickly distributed.

Accompanied by top disaster-response officials and cabinet members, he reportedly offered his prayers “to prevent an eruption” and promised the national government would help with the cleanup and reconstruction of the devastated province once the ashfall ends.

Additional reporting by agencies

NEWS

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January 14, 2020 at 02:57PM

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