Taal volcano is predicted to erupt in the coming “hours to days” as authorities urge residents to evacuate all areas surrounding the Philippines volcano.
The eruption warning arrives after 731 earthquakes rocked the Philippines volcano on Luzon Island since January 12. The current Alert Level for Taal is 4, meaning officials expect a “hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days”.
On Thursday, January 23, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) reported plumes of steam and smoke belching from Taal’s main crater.
As of 8am local time the volcano has also been spewing 158 tonnes (141 tons) of toxic sulphur dioxide (SO2) into the skies.
An official Taal Volcano Bulletin for Thursday morning warned of possible magma moving under the volcano.
The PHIVOLCS bulletin reads: “For the past 24 hours, the Taal Volcano Network, which can record small earthquakes undetectable by the Philippine Seismic Network (PSN), recorded 467 volcanic earthquakes, including eight low-frequency earthquakes.
“Such intense activity likely signifies continuous magmatic intrusion beneath the Taal edifice, which may lead to further eruptive activity.”
Despite showing signs of activity, local residents are at odds with officials who have urged for a widespread evacuation in a 8.6 mile (14km) radius around Taal.
Taal volcano erupted on January 12 for the first time in 43 years, spewing a thick plume of ash and smoke into the skies.
The initial steam-driven blast was followed on January 13 by a volcanic one, prompting authorities to evacuate thousands living near Taal.
But the volcano has not erupted yet and many believe it is safe to return to their homes.
The volcano has, however, blanketed local areas with volcanic ash and fissures have split the earth wide open.
If Taal erupts again, PHIVOLCS expects the volcano to release thick plumes of dust and ash to the west and northwest of the main crater.
Based on current wind forecasts, the plume could reach up to 3.1 miles (5km) in height.
A major eruption, however, threatens to send and smoke up to 4.3 miles (7km) up and towards Laguna and Quezon provinces.
PHIVOLCS said: “Residents around the volcano are advised to guard against the effects of heavy and prolonged ashfall.
“Civil aviation authorities must advise pilots to avoid the airspace around Taal Volcano as airborne ash and ballistic fragments from the eruption column pose hazards to aircraft.”