Government Warns of "Imminent Hazardous Eruption" After Taal Volcano Erupts

Nearly a half a million people residing near a volcano in the Philippines have been urged to evacuate after a volcano suddenly erupted over the weekend, spewing ash up to nine miles into the air, with the government's volcano-monitoring agency warning of an "imminent hazardous eruption."

Located some 37 miles south of the country's capital of Manila on the island of Luzon, the Taal Volcano erupted suddenly and violently on Sunday, forcing the evacuation of nearly 22,000 people in the immediate area. Photos from the scene showed streams of lava flowing out of the volcanic vent, with the skies blackened by ash and steam.

Philippine's Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) raised the alert level to four, meaning experts anticipate an "explosive eruption" in the next few days. The system's highest alert is five, which generally indicates an active eruption.

Poor transportation options and visibility have hampered evacuation efforts for many nearby villages, including Taal, a town of about 60,000 residents, located about nine miles south of the volcano. The mayor of Taal Fulgencio Mercado said tens of thousands of residents have already fled the area, leaving by car, public transport or by other arrangements made by the municipal government, NBC News reported.

Taal Volcano Erupts In The Philippines

Taal Volcano Erupts In The Philippines

Comparatively speaking, the Taal Volcano isn't as large as other volcanoes around the world, however, experts do consider it among the most dangerous due to the fact that more than 450,000 people live within the "volcanic danger zone." At least ten cities and municipalities are located near the volcano, with some barely located outside the evacuation radius.

PHIVOLCS has requested that the nearly half a million residents be evacuated from the region while the Taal Volcano erupts. While the lava that is erupting now is expected to spill into nearby towns, experts warn that it's the volcanic ash that is the biggest danger. Other threats

So far, there have been no reports of casualties or major damage from the volcanic eruption. Many government offices, schools and businesses across the country have closed.

Photo: Getty Images