The Philippines’ second-most active volcano erupted on Sunday, prompting warnings of a hazardous “volcanic tsunami” as tens of thousands of villagers were evacuated.
The eruption, which spewed a plume of ash a half a mile into the air, happened months after Taal— the volcano 40 miles from Manila— began exhibiting signs of disturbance, the New York Times reported.
Villagers reported rumbling sounds, booming noises, and tremors in the area.
“The earthquakes were strong, and it felt like there was a monster coming out” as in the movies, Cookie Siscar, who had left the area and was relaying a report from her husband, Emer, a poultry farmer, told the Times.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology increased its threat level for Taal Volcano to four out of five, saying that a “hazardous explosive eruption” could happen at any minute:
— PHIVOLCS-DOST (@phivolcs_dost) January 12, 2020
The institute also warned that a “volcanic tsunami” could take place because of the eruption and advised communities in the area to take precautions against lake surges around the volcano.
The island is home to 6,000 residents, and rescue boats took people to safety in Batangas early Sunday.
Tens of thousands of people were under evacuation orders in the surrounding area, but there were no reports of injuries or damage to property as of Sunday.
Manila’s international airport also announced on Twitter that the eruption caused all flights to and from the airport to be suspended.
Due to the eruption of the Taal Volcano, all flights, both arrival and departures are now on hold. Passengers are advised to coordinate with their respective airlines for flight updates.#MIAAGovPH #ManilaAirport #TaalVolcano pic.twitter.com/tQp1kqRO4p
— NAIA (@MIAAGovPH) January 12, 2020
The volcanic island has been showing signs of activity since March 2019, and the volcano has erupted three times recently.
Salvador Panelo, a spokesperson for Philippine President Rodrigo Duerte, said the government is monitoring the Taal volcano situation.
“Concerned agencies of the national government are now working closely with the provincial government of Batangas to ensure the safety of the residents, including their evacuation,” Panelo said. “We advise the public to continue to remain vigilant.”