More than 2,000 flee toxic Taal volcano smog

Eruption has created a thick haze over Philippine capital Manila and prompted several health warnings

More than 2,000 people have fled a volcano eruption that has filled the air near the Philippine capital with toxic gas, officials said.

Taal volcano, which sits in a picturesque lake, has been belching sulphur dioxide for several days, creating a thick haze over Manila and several surrounding provinces, prompting health warnings.

At least 2,400 people have left their homes since the government called for evacuations of hamlets on the lake's shores, provincial disaster official Joselito Castro told AFP on Saturday.

"We expect more residents to flee over the coming days," he said. Many are seeking refuge either in schools closed by the coronavirus pandemic or in the homes of relatives.

Taal lies only 50 kilometres south of Manila and for much of the past week has discharged volcanic smog that has blotted out the sun in the capital.

Civil defence officials have warned that upwards of 317,000 people could be vulnerable to toxic gas emissions from the volcano under the current eruption's worst-case scenario.

Taal is one of the most active volcanoes in a nation hit periodically by eruptions and earthquakes because of its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" - a zone of intense seismic activity.

The last eruption there in January 2020 shot ash 15 kilometres high and spewed red-hot lava, crushing scores of homes, killing livestock and sending more than 135,000 people into shelters.

Updated: July 4th 2021, 5:13 AM
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