Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport has resumed operations after flights were cancelled on Monday (13 Jan) following a major volcanic eruption to the south of the airport.
Thousands of people were forced to evacuate their homes near Taal, one of the world’s smallest active volcanoes, which spewed ash for a second day from its crater in the middle of a lake about 70km south of central Manila.
Seismologists have warned another eruption could happen at any time, potentially triggering a tsunami.
What’s going on?
On the afternoon of January 12, the peaceful scene at Lake Taal was suddenly interrupted by an explosion of hot ash and gas, as the Taal Volcano, on the island of Luzon, erupted, blasting scorching black ash nine miles into the sky.
On January 13, lava fountains started shooting up from the main crater, as ash continued to blanket parts of the country, including the capital city of Manila, about 62 miles north of the Volcano.
“This is definitely a volcano to be taken seriously,”
Beth Bartel, an outreach specialist at UNAVCO, a geoscientific consortium of universities and scientific institutions.
Flights were cancelled, schools and other public institutions were closed, and tens of thousands of people were evacuated from both the volcanic isle within Lake Taal and from the shorelines surrounding it.
Thankfully, no casualties have been reported, and there is a chance this eruption could fizzle out.
Still, many people remain in high-risk zones, and “the biggest bang is not always at the beginning of an eruption,” stated Jenni Barclay, a volcanologist at the University of East Anglia. “On a timescale much longer than the threat of a hurricane, something else could happen that’s even bigger.”
What does this mean for travel?
Airlines cancelled roughly 240 flights to and from Manila’s international airport on Monday, however, most flights in and out of Manilla are back to normal now, with the exception of a few domestic cancellations.
Ash accumulated on runways almost a thousand miles away in Guam, forcing the cancellation of flights to and from the Pacific Ocean Island.
The flight cancellations left around 200 people stranded; but help poured in for the passengers in the form of blankets, free food and hotel accommodation. Most of the passengers have now completed their onward journey.
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