Philippines’ 2nd most active volcano spews steam-laden plumes

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Manila, May 24 (IANS) The Philippines second most active volcano on Monday spewed steam-laden plumes reaching 1 kilometre high following days of volcanic earthquakes, officials said.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has monitored hundreds of quakes since last week at Taal Volcano in Batangas province, 66 km south of Manila, dpa news agency reported.

“Low-level background tremors” have also persisted since April 8, the institute said in its bulletin.

On Monday, an “upwelling of hot volcanic fluids in (the volcano’s) lake … generated plumes that reached 1 kilometre tall”, while sulphur dioxide emissions remained high amid steady ground deformation, the bulletin added.

“These parameters indicate persistent magmatic activity at shallow depths beneath the edifice,” Phivolcs said, adding that alert level two remained at Taal.

“Sudden steam-driven or phreatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, minor ashfall, and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas can occur and threaten areas within and around (the volcano island),” 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 times 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.