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Philippines, Manila

Philippines lowers Taal volcano alert level, allowing thousands to return home

A popular tourist destination just south of Manila because of its picturesque setting in the middle of a lake, Taal erupted on Jan. 12, causing no known deaths.

2020-01-26 7:23:00 AM

A popular tourist destination just south of Manila because of its picturesque setting in the middle of a lake, Taal erupted on Jan. 12, causing no known deaths.

The Philippine archipelago lies in the so-called Pacific 'Ring of Fire,' a seismically fragile region around the ocean basin, where most of the world's earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.

Mayor Daniel Reyes of Agoncillo, a town along the western shores of Taal Lake overlooking the island where the volcano lies, said he was relieved but remained concerned. Residents of Agoncillo and nearby Lemery could still not return home because of the towns’ proximity to the volcano.

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“It’s somehow a relief but we’re still under a total lockdown,” Reyes told The Associated Press, adding all the 44,000 villagers of his town will remain in evacuation centres.READ MORE:What’s causing lightning during the Philippines eruption? Experts explain the phenomenon

More than 376,000 people fled to safety from ash-blanketed towns and cities in hard-hit Batangas province. Nearly half of them sought accommodation in some 500 state-run emergency shelters, mostly school and government buildings. The eruption had shut Manila’s main international airport for a night due to volcanic ash, forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights.

A thriving tourism industry in Batangas and in upland Tagaytay city, where hundreds of hotels, venues, spas and parks have benefited from its vantage view of one of the world’s smallest volcanoes, came to a halt for days.Story continues below advertisement

Resort towns around Taal Lake resembled ash-covered ghost towns. Police set up barricades and checkpoints to prevent residents from sneaking back to the danger zone to check their homes, rescue pets or retrieve food, documents and belongings, sparking arguments.

0:38Timelapse captures eruptions inside Taal volcano’s main crater in PhilippinesTimelapse captures eruptions inside Taal volcano’s main crater in PhilippinesThe 1,020-foot (311-meter) Taal is the second-most restive of about two dozen active Philippine volcanoes and precariously lies near densely populated areas. On the small island where the volcano lies, more than 5,000 villagers, many of them working as tourist guides, fled as the ground shook and the volcano belched a tall plume of dark-gray ash and steam into the sky. Hundreds of horses, cows and other animals were left behind.

The Philippine archipelago lies in the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a seismically fragile region around the ocean basin, where most of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. Read more: Globalnews.ca »

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