Taal volcano in the Philippines could spew lava and ash for weeks, authorities warned Tuesday, leaving tens of thousands in limbo after they fled their homes fearing a massive eruption.
Residents living along Taal lake catch fish as Taal volcano erupts in Tanauan town, Batangas province south of Manila on January 14, 2020. (Photo: AFP)
The crater of the volcano exploded to life with towering clouds of ash and jets of red-hot lava on Sunday, forcing those living around the mountain south of Manila to rush to safety.
Many people abandoned livestock and pets as well as homes full of belongings after authorities sounded an alert warning that an "explosive eruption" could come imminently.
"We left everything apart from what we're wearing," said Robert Cadiz, a 47-year-old fisherman among some 30,000 who took refuge in shelters. "We were terrified."
Gerald Aseoche, 30, who left with his four young children and a few possessions, has missed work to stay with them as the volcano belches out lava and earthquakes tied to the eruption rattle the region.
"I am hoping this won't go on too long because I will lose my job if I can't report to work immediately," Aseoche, a house painter, told AFP at an evacuation centre.
Taal is one of the most active volcanoes in a nation hit periodically by eruptions and earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" -- a zone of intense seismic activity.
Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon warned that the group was "preparing for the worst" and urged people to away from the volcano.
"Bring your animals and livestock to evacuation centres if you must," he added.
The Taal eruption has been putting on a stunning and terrifying display, including an ash cloud illuminated with lightning bolts and shot dark-grey columns 800 metres (half a mile) in the sky.