A volcano near Manila spewed lava fountains Monday after belching a massive cloud of ash that drifted across the Philippine capital on Sunday, forcing the cancellation of flights and closure of schools and government offices as authorities warned of a possible "explosive eruption".
Thousands of people were evacuated from the area near Taal volcano after it suddenly shot a column of ash and steam as high as 15 km (nine miles) into the sky. Lightning crackled inside the smoke and tremors shook the ground.
Ma Antonia Bornas, chief of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology volcano monitoring division, said volcanic activity weakened slightly at 2:49 a.m.
"We noticed a lava fountain at the main crater. The lava fountain finished at 430 a.m. It is now emitting steam plume," she told radio DZMM.
As of 3:20 a.m., ashfall from the volcano has fallen in Tanauan, Batangas; Escala, Tagaytay; Sta. Rosa, Laguna; Dasmarinas, Bacoor, Silang, Cavite; Malolos, San Jose Del Monte, Meycauayan, Bulacan; Antipolo, Rizal; Muntinlupa, Las Pinas, Marikina, Paranaque, Pasig, Quezon City, Mandaluyong, San Juan, Manila, Makati City and Taguig City.
"Large rock fragments (lapilli) with diameters 2 to 64mm has fallen in Tanauan, Talisay, Batangas; Tagaytay City; Nuvali and Sta. Rosa, Laguna," an advisory from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.
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.
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 reports from Agence France-Presse and Reuters