'Hazardous Taal eruption' possible as dozens of volcanic quakes strike: Phivolcs

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 13 2020 07:19 AM | Updated as of Jan 13 2020 07:42 AM

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MANILA — Taal Volcano remained on the brink of a possible "hazardous eruption" as it spawned at least 75 earthquakes, the state seismology office said Monday. 

Of the 75 quakes triggered by Taal as of 4:30 a.m., 32 were felt, mostly in Tagaytay, Cavite and Lemery and Talisay towns in Batangas, with the strongest triggering an Intensity 6 shaking, said Phivolcs volcano monitoring division chief Ma. Antonia Bornas. 

An Intensity 6 or "very strong" shaking can move heavy furniture, crack plaster walls and ring church bells, according to Phivolcs. 

The quakes were likely caused by magma moving upward towards the crater of Taal, a popular tourist attraction set in the center of a picturesque lake, said Bornas. 

"Mayroon pa po tayong maaaring kinakaharap na mas hazardous po na eruption... Sa historical eruptions po ng Taal, pangkaraniwan po iyong climactic phase, itong pinakadulo po ng eruption, ito po iyong pinakamalala," she told radio DZMM. 

(We could still be facing a possibly more hazardous eruptions. Based on Taal's historical eruptions, the climactic phase towards the end is the worst.) 

The volcano, she said, could spew "pyroclastic currents", a "dangerous" mix of steam, gas and ash. 

Taal on Sunday belched a 50,000-feet-tall ash cloud, which blanketed parts of Manila and nearby areas, and forced the suspension of all flights in the country's main airport, as well as school and work in government offices. 

The local disaster office said it had evacuated more than 2,000 residents living on the volcanic island, which lies inside a bigger lake formed by previous volcanic activity.

Before 3 a.m., a lava fountain flowed from Taal, said Bornas. 

Some particles up to 2.5 inches in diameter, larger than a golf ball, had also reportedly fallen in areas around the lake, Phivolcs said. 

Taal's last eruption was in 1977, Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum said.

Earthquakes and volcanic activity are not uncommon in the Philippines due to its position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide deep below the Earth's surface. With a report from Agence France-Presse