New ash cloud sparks fears of Taal volcano eruption

New ash cloud sparks fears of Taal volcano eruption

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The volcano in Batangas province, about 65 kilometers (40 miles) south of the capital, Manila, has remained at alert level 4, the second-highest warning, indicating a hazardous explosive eruption is possible in hours or days.

Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from areas under a security lockdown. Soldiers and police have been stopping desperate villagers from returning to Volcano Island to retrieve belongings and save their poultry and cattle.

A small lake on an island that sits within the broader Taal volcano in the Philippines has completely disappeared during the past few days of eruptions, according to new satellite imagery and news reports.

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This development is a consequence of the ongoing volcanic eruption there, which has been taking place since Sunday and featured at least one episode in which ash and debris was lofted more than 30,000 feet into the air. The ash cloud that resulted produced vivid lightning as ice particles, ash and pulverized rocks slammed together and generated static charges.

Another bigger eruption could potentially send ash — which carries microscopic shards of glass — 100 kilometers (62 miles) away or more, contaminating the air and water supplies in distant locations. More than 25 million people live within 100 kilometers of the volcano.

The priority was to get almost half a million people living within the danger zone to safety. Towns around the banks of Lake Taal were placed under police lockdown and evacuations enforced.

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By the following Saturday more than 70,000 people had sought shelter in 300 temporary evacuation centers. Many more are staying with relatives or friends in other provinces.

But in the days since Taal began erupting, a number of people have risked their lives by refusing to leave or returning home to tend farms and livestock or fetch personal belongings, even though a powerful eruption could happen at any time.

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