Philippine volcano trembles more, spews lava half-mile high

TAGAYTAY, Philippines (AP) — A volcano near the Philippine capital spewed lava into the sky and trembled constantly yesterday, possibly portending a bigger and more dangerous eruption, as tens of thousands of people fled villages darkened and blanketed by heavy ash.

Government work was suspended and schools were closed in a number of towns and cities, including Manila, because of the health risks from the ash.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled of delayed, affecting tens of thousands of passengers. The continuous restiveness of the Taal volcano and several new fissures cracking the ground nearby likely means magma is rising and may lead to further eruptive activity, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said.

The volcano was spurting fountains of red-hot lava 800 metres into the sky, and the massive column of ash and volcanic debris at times lit up with streaks of lightning.

The alert level since the eruption began last Sunday has been 4, indicating a hazardous eruption is possible in hours to days. Level 5, the highest, means such an eruption is underway.

Residents wait to be evacuated as heavy ash and debris from the Taal volcano eruption continue to cover their town in Talisay, Batangas. PHOTO: AP