Videos Show Taal Volcano Eruption in Philippines As People Told to Evacuate

Dramatic footage has emerged showing the Taal volcano erupting in the Philippines, prompting officials to urge those in the area to leave.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology shared a clip of the Taal volcano in Batangas province, south of the capital Manila, having what is known as a phreatomagmatic eruption, between 3:16 p.m. and 3:21 p.m. local time Thursday. Phreatomagmatic eruptions generally occur when magma and water interact in an explosive way, and can cause steam and volcanic rock to shoot into the air.

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A separate video shared by the Filipino ABS-CBN News outlet, attributed to a person named Maru Emer Hernandez Tumambing, showed a number of people in a boat approaching the volcano, with plumes of what appears to be steam visible in the background.

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Shortly after the eruption, the institute increased the volcano's alert level in its five-step system from Alert 2, "increasing unrest," to Alert 3, "magmatic unrest." The third level signifies a high level of volcanic unrest, that magma is near or at the volcano's surface, and that a hazardous eruption could happen in weeks.

The new alert meant there was a risk that magma was intruding into the main crater, which could cause further eruptions, according to volcanologists. The experts said it remained unclear if the volcano would fully erupt.

Renato Solidum of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) told a news conference, according to the Associated Press, "it's just one explosive event, it's too early to tell." The volcano created a "short-lived dark phreatomagmatic plume" that shot one kilometer into the air, PHIVOLCS said. It was not accompanied by a volcanic earthquake, which can sometimes be caused by such activity.

PHIVOLCS "strongly" recommended those on Volcano Island, which sits inside Lake Taal, and in the nearby Agoncillo and Laurel areas to evacuate. "Communities around the Taal Lake shore are advised to take precautionary measures and be vigilant of possible lakewater disturbances related to the ongoing unrest," the institute said.

Taal is one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines, and Volcano Island is designated as a permanent danger zone. Taal last erupted in January 2020, 43 years after the previous eruption, casting a veil of wet, heavy ash around it, damaging nearby crops, and prompting officials in Batangas to declare a state of calamity. The eruption was linked to 39 deaths.

taal volcano eruption alert level 3, getty
Taal volcano in Batangas province is pictured on January 20, 2020. The volcano erupted again on July 1, 2021. ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images