Mudflows, fissuring, quakes: Phivolcs urges Taal residents to keep away from volcano

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Posted at Jan 14 2020 08:55 AM | Updated as of Jan 14 2020 09:20 AM

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The country's chief seismologist on Tuesday warned residents near Taal not to return to their homes as the volcano continued to shows signs of a possible hazardous eruption. 

Renato Solidum, head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, said the agency recorded 212 volcanic quakes around Taal in the past 24 hours. Eighty-one of the volcanic quakes were felt at intensities 1 to 5. 

Aside from the lava fountain recorded Monday, Taal continues to spew a 2-kilometer high column of smoke and ash, Solidum said. 

"We advise not to go into the 14-km danger zone because of the possible pyroclastic density current...Hindi pa pwedeng bumalik siyempre ang peligro ng abo ay delikado," he said, adding that volcanic activity could last weeks or even months. 

"What is dangerous is watch out for landslides especially in the crater wall of the caldera because those are very high," he added. 

Rising magma could also cause fissuring near the volcano, which will cause earthquakes, Solidum said. 

The Phivolcs chief, meanwhile, denied reports the agency has already declared Alert Level 5, saying the volcano has yet to erupt. 

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

The eruption began with an explosion of superheated steam and rock on Sunday. By early Monday "fountains" of lava had been spotted on Taal, Phivolcs said.

Stunning lightning shows have periodically played out above the volcano in a little-understood phenomenon that has been attributed to static electricity. 

Over 20,000 people have sought refuge in evacuation centers since Sunday. With Agence France-Presse