Thousands seek evacuation as volcano spews ash, lava - GulfToday

Thousands seek evacuation as volcano spews ash, lava

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Residents evacuate to a safer place after Taal volcano began spewing ash on Monday. Ted Aljibe/AFP

Lava and broad columns of ash illuminated by lightning spewed from a volcano south of the Philippine capital on Monday, grounding hundreds of flights as authorities warned of a possible "explosive eruption".

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Fine grit coated homes and streets across the region surrounding the Taal volcano, which burst to life on Sunday accompanied by a series of earthquakes, forcing at least 10,000 people to seek refuge in evacuation centres.

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A man walks along ash fall covered plants as Taal Volcano continues to spew ash in Tagaytay, Philippines. AP

"You could not sleep anymore, because every time you closed your eyes the house would shake," restaurant owner Lia Monteverde told AFP, saying the quakes came minutes apart.

"All of us didn't sleep at all. We just prepared to leave."

Taal sits in a picturesque lake and is one of the most active volcanoes in a nation where earthquakes and eruptions are a frightening and destructive part of life.

The Philippines sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide deep below the Earth's surface.

Schools in the region around Taal, some government offices in Manila and the Philippine Stock Exchange were closed as a precaution on Monday.

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Residents help scrape a road covered with mud spewed by Taal volcano over Tanauan town on Monday. AFP

Dust masks sold out in stores as authorities warned locals that the ash could cause respiratory problems especially in the very young and those with pre-existing lung conditions.

Limited flight operations resumed mid-Monday at Manila's main international airport, nearly a day after authorities halted them due to the safety risk volcanic ash poses to planes.

However, travellers booked on over 240 cancelled flights still faced delays at Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

"I'm disappointed because this (delay) means additional expense for me and it's tiring to wait," said stranded traveller Joan Diocaras, a 28-year-old Filipino who works in Taiwan.

"But there's nothing we can do."