General alert south of the capital of the Philippines, Manila, where the huge Taal volcano woke up suddenly on Sunday, January 12. He was still spitting lava Tuesday, January 14, and a gigantic column of ash and smoke streaked with lightning. A thin film of ash covers the houses and streets around the volcano, located 65 km south of Manila.
In addition, the awakening of the volcano was accompanied by a series of mini-earthquakes. More than 30,000 people have taken refuge in evacuation centers, and they may not return home for long. Authorities have warned that the Taal volcano could continue for weeks to spit out ash and lava.
The Philippines is on the “Pacific Ring of Fire”
According to geologists sent there, the volcano remains very active, spitting incandescent lava more than 500 meters high from new cracks that have opened on its northern flank. The volcano, which is in the middle of a crater lake in an area very popular with tourists, is one of the most active in the archipelago, which is an area of intense seismic activity due to its position on the ” Pacific Ring of Fire ”.
It designates these areas where the tectonic plates collide, causing earthquakes and regular volcanic activity. In January 2018, tens of thousands of people had to be evacuated due to an eruption of Mont Mayon in the central region of Bicol. We also remember the most powerful eruption in recent decades, in 1991, that of Mount Pinatubo, a hundred kilometers north of Manila which had killed more than 800 people.
It seems impossible to say how long this eruption will last
After being closed all day on Sunday, Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport resumed almost normal activities on Monday. But the people around the crater will have to be patient and stay safe away from the volcano.
When the authorities sounded a siren warning of a risk of“Explosive eruption” many residents hastily abandoned their cattle and pets, as well as their homes and possessions. “We were terrified” said a 47-year-old fisherman who is among 30,000 refugees evacuated to date. He hopes that “It’s not going to last too long because I’m going to lose my job”.
Impossible to say how long this eruption will last, observed the director of the Institute of volcanology and seismology of the Philippines (Phivolcs), Renato Solidum, recalling that the preceding ones had lasted sometimes months. The alert alert“Explosive eruption” potentially catastrophic could remain for weeks, depending on field observations. “We have a protocol which involves waiting several days, sometimes two weeks, to be sure that the activity of the volcano has stopped” he told Agence France-Presse.