Taal Volcano forces evacuation of thousands in Philippines

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People watch as Taal Volcano erupts Sunday Jan. 12, 2020, in Tagaytay, Cavite province, outside Manila, Philippines. (AP)
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People watch as the Taal volcano spews ash and smoke during an eruption in Tagaytay, Cavite province south of Manila, Philippines on Sunday. Jan. 12, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 13 January 2020

Taal Volcano forces evacuation of thousands in Philippines

  • Eruption possible within weeks as alert level raised

MANILA: Thousands of people are being evacuated from a southwestern province in the Philippines after a volcano began spewing ash plumes as high as 100 meters.

As of Sunday afternoon Taal Volcano had escalated its eruptive activity generating an eruption plume one-kilometer high accompanied by volcanic tremor and felt earthquakes in Volcano Island and villages of Agoncillo, Batangas, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), which raised the alert level to three, indicating a high level of volcanic unrest. 

The maximum alert level is five, which is a hazardous eruption in progress. 

The institute said ashfall was being showered on the southwest sector of Taal and that the volcano had shown increased steaming activity in at least five spots inside the main crater.

The largest activity was a steam-driven eruption that generated a plume approximately 100 meters high.

The institute recommended that residents and tourists should be evacuated from Taal Island, Agoncillo and Laurel due to the possible threat of searing hot flows of ash, gas and rocks that whoosh down the sides of a volcano during an eruption, and a volcanic tsunami.

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council spokesman Mark Timbal said residents from nine towns near the volcano were being moved to safer grounds.

Parts of the province are already experiencing a power outage, but no casualties have been reported so far.

Taal is the second most active volcano in the Philippines, with 33 recorded eruptions. The last major eruption happened on Oct. 3, 1977.

It is also considered one of the most dangerous in the world. In 1911, Taal caused one of the worst volcano disasters in history when it erupted and killed 1,334 people.

FAST FACTS

• The largest activity was a steam-driven eruption that generated a plume approximately 100 meters high.

• Residents from nine towns near the volcano were being moved to safer grounds.

Phivolcs Officer-in-charge Renato Soldium said that Taal was inside a bigger crater or basin or bowl, which is why people would have to evacuate horizontally and away from the crater.

“There is water that would be hindering the rapid evacuation and that is why people need to get out of the island as soon as possible,” he added.

Communities around the shore of Taal Lake have been advised to take precautionary measures and be vigilant of possible lakewater disturbances related to the ongoing seismic unrest.

Phivolcs said that the volcano had maintained a moderate to high level of seismic activity since last March. Some of these earthquakes were felt with intensity levels ranging from one, scarcely perceptible, to three, weak shaking, in the surrounding villages.

These earthquakes were often accompanied by rumbling sounds, it added. Three earthquakes were recorded on Sunday and a seismic swarm was ongoing. 

Phivolcs said that raising the alert level from two to three meant there was a “magmatic intrusion”  that was likely driving the current activity. Alert level three also meant that eruption was possible within weeks.

It reminded the public that the entire island was a permanent danger zone and that entry onto the island, as well as nearby villages, was prohibited.


Four killed in India clash ahead of Trump arrival

A man supporting a new citizenship law throws a stone at those who are opposing the law, during a clash in New Delhi, India, February 24, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 5 min 1 sec ago

Four killed in India clash ahead of Trump arrival

  • The new law has raised worries abroad — including in Washington — that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to remold secular India into a Hindu nation while marginalizing the country’s 200 million Muslims, a claim he denies

NEW DELHI: A policeman was among at least four people killed in New Delhi on Monday during violent clashes over a contentious citizenship law, local media said, hours before US President Donald Trump arrived in the Indian capital for an official visit.
Protesters torched at least two houses and shops before later setting a tire market on fire, the Press Trust of India said. Local TV channels showed plumes of black smoke billowing from buildings.
One video posted on social media showed crowds of men shouting “Jai Shree Ram” or “Hail Lord Ram,” a revered Hindu deity, as they went on a rampage.
Protests have broken out across India since the citizenship law came into force in December, leaving at least 30 people killed in clashes with police. Critics say the law discriminates against Muslims.
The new law has raised worries abroad — including in Washington — that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to remold secular India into a Hindu nation while marginalizing the country’s 200 million Muslims, a claim he denies.
The latest unrest erupted between several hundred supporters and opponents of the law in a Muslim-dominated area of northeast Delhi on Sunday, and continued Monday.
A constable died after receiving a critical head injury, while another senior officer was among the injured.
Local media said three civilians also died and many people were hurt.
“Please renounce violence. Nobody benefits from this. All problems will be solved by peace,” Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia tweeted that schools in the capital’s northeast would be shut on Tuesday and exams postponed.
Trump arrived in the western state of Gujarat on Monday and addressed about 100,000 people at a rally with Modi before he visited the Taj Mahal monument in Agra.
Later Monday the US president landed in Delhi before official talks in the city on Tuesday.
A senior US official told reporters that Trump would raise concerns about religious freedom in the Hindu-majority nation during the trip, calling them “extremely important to this administration.”