A volcano to the south of the Philippine capital of Manila spewed ash and steam for a second day and pushed out fountains of lava, with authorities warning a larger eruption could occur and send deadly clouds surging over land at high speeds.
More than 13,000 people have been evacuated from the area surrounding Taal Volcano, said
a spokesman for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. In some places, the falling ash from the eruptions was so severe that vehicles carrying locals out of the high-risk zone had to halt operations temporarily because of near-zero visibility, Mr. Timbal said.
The volcano, which is about 65 miles from Manila, “entered a period of intense unrest” Sunday, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, or Phivolcs. Strong winds carried ash to the capital city, where flights were disrupted, the stock market was closed and schools were suspended.
Government volcanologists said Monday they would keep the alert level at four out of a possible five, which indicates a hazardous eruption may occur in a matter of hours or days. If that happens, the volcano could send large amounts of hot lava flying into the sky. But a different and possibly more-dangerous phenomenon could also occur known as base surge.
The Taal Volcano is a tourist attraction that sits in a picturesque lake.
Base surge is when massive clouds of ash, rocks and gas are thrust out horizontally at speeds of more than 35 miles an hour. The clouds move with such force that they could travel over the lake that surrounds Taal Volcano and sweep across the mainland, potentially damaging life and property,
who is in charge of Phivolcs, said in an interview.
These clouds “can burn you, asphyxiate you, crush you, mangle you,” Dr. Solidum said. “This is the worst-case scenario.”
Base surges have occurred at Taal before, giving the relatively small volcano a violent history. An eruption in 1965 accompanied by deadly outward-pushing clouds killed 200 people. A similar disaster in 1911 left an estimated 1,300 dead, Dr. Solidum said. And in 1754, the clouds extended to areas all around the volcano, but accurate records of the number of casualties aren’t available.
A major eruption could also cause a volcanic tsunami, authorities warned. That could result from debris shooting out of the volcano and hitting the waters of the surrounding lake, generating big waves. Dr. Solidum said there was no reliable way to estimate how likely it was that a base surge or volcanic tsunami would occur.
Since Sunday afternoon, seismologists have recorded at least 144 volcanic earthquakes in the Taal region. That is an indication that the magma is moving up the volcano with such force, it is causing fissures or cracks in the ground to shake, Dr. Solidum said.
Mud and ash spewed by the volcano coated the nearby town of Tanauan.
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