Philippines' second most active volcano spews steam-laden plumes

MANILA, Feb 20 (dpa): The Philippines' second-most active volcano on Friday night (Feb 19) spewed steam-laden plumes reaching 40 metres high, more than one year since it erupted, the government volcanology institute said.

Taal volcano in Batangas province, 66 kilometres south of Manila, has been exhibiting increased activity in the past few days, prompting local authorities to evacuate over 200 people living near its crater.

"Sudden steam-driven or phreatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, minor ash fall, and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas can occur and threaten" nearby communities, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.

"Ground deformation parameters from continuous electronic tilt on Volcano Island [inside Lake Taal] record a slight deflation," Phivolcs said.

"Local government units are advised to continuously assess previously evacuated barangays (villages) around Taal Lake for damages and road accessibilities and to strengthen preparedness, contingency, and communication measures in case of renewed unrest," it added.

Taal last erupted on January 12, 2020, forcing more than 376,000 people to flee their homes in surrounding towns. It has erupted 33 time since 1572.

Thirty-nine people died due to illness while in evacuation centres and accidents caused by thick ash fall, according to the provincial government. The authorities did not specify how many of those deaths were directly related to the volcano's eruption.

It is a popular tourist destination for its picturesque crater lake. Taal also has the distinction of being the only volcano in the world within a lake on an island. - dpa
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