Thousands of people living near Philippine Taal volcano, one of the world’s smallest active volcanoes, were forced to evacuate their homes as it spewed ash and lava for a second day from its crater in the middle of a lake about 70 km (45 miles) south of central Manila.
On Monday, January 13th, schools and businesses shut across the Philippine capital as the Taal volcano burst to life on Sunday, January 12th accompanied by a series of earthquakes, forcing at least 16,000 people to seek refuge in evacuation centres.
In addition, the stock exchange suspended trading and many private businesses shut for the day too. Streets were largely empty in the city of 13 million people.
Philippine authorities warned on Sunday that the Taal volcano could erupt imminently, sending a tsunami surging across the lake, hours after a massive column of ash rose and spread out from the crater, suspending flights and coating towns across the region in fine dust, according to Reuters.
Aviation officials ordered a suspension of flights into and out of the capital's Ninoy Aquino International Airport after the ash cloud was reported to have reached 50,000 feet (15,000 metres). Flight operations at Manila’s international airport partially resumed after at least 240 flights had been delayed or cancelled on Sunday, according to the authorities. However, tourists ignored the dangers and travelled to towns closest to the volcano to get a better look.
Chief science research specialist at the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Maria Antonia Bornas, said, “The speed of escalation of Taal’s volcanic activity caught us by surprise. We have detected magma. It’s still deep, it hasn’t reached the surface. We still can expect a hazardous eruption any time.”
Taal volcano has erupted more than 30 times in the past five centuries, most recently in 1977. In 1911 an eruption killed 1,500 people. Earthquakes and volcanic activity are common in the Philippines due to its position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire".