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Philippines on alert as Taal volcano erupts

  • Philippines on alert as Taal volcano erupts
    In the early hours of Monday, a weak flow of lava began seeping out of Taal volcano - located some 70km (45 miles) south of the capital Manila. Philippines on alert as Taal volcano erupts

A volcano in the Philippines has begun spewing lava, as authorities warn that a "hazardous eruption" is possible "within hours or days".

In the early hours of Monday, a weak flow of lava began seeping out of Taal volcano - located some 70km (45 miles) south of the capital Manila.

It comes after it emitted a huge plume of ash, triggering the mass evacuation of 8,000 people from the area.

Taal is the Philippines' second most active volcano.

Situated on an island in the middle of a lake, it is one of the world's smallest volcanoes and has recorded at least 34 eruptions in the past 450 years.

Authorities in the surrounding province, Batangas, have declared a "state of calamity", signifying major disruption.

On Sunday, the volcano emitted a giant plume of ash, with rumbling sounds and tremors also reported.

The eruption began with an explosion of superheated steam and rock, but by early Monday "fountains" of lava had been spotted on Taal, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.

Authorities raised the alert level to its second-highest level on Sunday, saying an "explosive eruption" could happen in "hours to days".

Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum told AFP the lava was evidence of fresh movement in the volcano, but said it was unclear if Taal would "sustain its activity".

Government seismologists recorded magma moving towards the crater of Taal, which is located 65 kilometres (40 miles) south of Manila.

Apart from the ash, some particles up to 6.4 centimetres (2.5 inches) in diameter, larger than a golf ball, had reportedly fallen in areas around the lake, Phivolcs said.

Taal's last eruption was in 1977, Solidum said.

Two years ago, Mount Mayon displaced tens of thousands of people after spewing millions of tonnes of ash, rocks and lava in the central Bicol region.

The most powerful explosion in recent years was the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo, about 100 kilometres northwest of Manila, which killed more than 800 people.

It spewed an ash cloud that travelled thousands of kilometres in a matter of days and was blamed for damaging nearly two dozen aircraft.

AFP - REUTERS