Eight thousand people have been evacuated from their homes as fears of a potential Philippines volcano eruption rise. A kilometre-long plume of ash was seen stretching into the sky from Taal volcano on 12 January.
The volcano, which is the second most active in the Philippines, is south of the capital Manila. Rumbling sounds and tremors were also reported as ash fell in neighbouring areas, with locals cautioned to wear protective masks.
“We saw the volcano erupting,” Jon Patrick Yen, a tourist at the Philippine resort of Tagaytay, told Reuters. “It rained and some small pebbles fell to the ground.”
Philippine authorities have raised the level of alert for the Philippines volcano, stating that a “hazardous eruption” could occur in the next few weeks, reports the BBC.
Flights at Manila International Airport have also been suspended causing potential disruption for thousands of people.
“Flight operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport have been temporarily suspended due to the volcanic ash from the eruption of Taal Volcano,” the Manila International Airport Authority tweeted on Sunday 12 Jan.
According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, a “volcanic tsunami” is also a possibility.
One of the smallest volcanoes in the world, the Taal volcano has registered some 34 eruptions in 450 years.
The alert comes just over a month after the eruption of Whakaari White Island in New Zealand that killed 17 people, with a further two people left missing presumed dead.
Volcano tourism, where travellers seek to get as close to active volcanoes, has become increasingly popular in recent years, despite concerns as to its safety.
“Getting close to volcanoes offers a rare opportunity to experience the power of the restless earth,” renowned travel journalist Simon Calder, recently told the BBC. “But with the reward comes a range of risks.”
Acccording to data from the University of Bristol, there are about 1,500 active volcanoes in the world, with around 60 eruptions each year. Some 2,000 people have been killed by a volcano since the start of the Millenium. In 2017, three tourists, a boy and his parents died in Solfatara near Naples, Italy when they fell into a volcanic crater.
Photo of Taal Volcano credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Taal_Volcano_-_12_January_2020.jpg