A Philippine volcano threw smaller ash clouds on Thursday, but it continually shuddered with earthquakes and cracked roads in nearby cities, which were blocked by police due to fear of a larger eruption.
The crater lake of the Taal volcano and a nearby river have dried up in some of the signs of its continuing volcanic restlessness. That has led army troops and the police to prevent villagers from sneaking back in boats to the volcanic island and nearby towns to recover their belongings, birds and cattle.
There have been no reports of deaths or serious injuries from the sudden eruption, which began on Sunday, but many houses and farms have been damaged by volcanic ash, which briefly forced the closure of the Manila International Airport and caused the cancellation of more than 600 flights . The volcano in the province of Batangas is located more than 65 kilometers (40 miles) south of the capital, Manila.
Amid warnings of an imminent and more dangerous eruption, police cordoned off at least four cities along or near the shore of a lake that surrounds the island of the volcano, generating discussions with the villagers.
“We lost everything, our house was damaged, but I need to recover my pots and kitchen utensils and other things. They shouldn’t be very, very strict,” Erlinda Landicho, a 59-year-old mother, told The Associated Press.
Landicho, who fled with his son from the municipality of Lemery when the volcano erupted, was among a crowd of villagers detained by the police to re-enter the ash-covered city. A fire truck blocked a key access road and police established checkpoints. Beyond the barricade, Lemery looked like a ghost town partially wrapped in swirls of ashes.
1:54Philippine Taal Volcano on the verge of full eruption
More than 121,000 people fled their homes alone in the province of Batangas, which has declared a state of calamity to allow faster release of emergency funds. At least 373 evacuation sites were crowded with displaced villagers and needed more ash masks, portable toilets, bottled water and mats, according to a provincial disaster response office.
The main government disaster agency reported that more than 65,000 people were displaced by the eruption in Batangas and the province of Cavite. The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear.
Among the displaced were about 5,000 people living on the island where the Taal volcano is located. The island had been a popular tourist destination for its breathtaking view of the volcano’s crater lake and the lush hills full of trees and birds. Some villagers have passed the checkpoints to recover some of the hundreds of cows and horses that they left behind, which caused the coast guard and police to intensify a security cordon.
A villager who returned from the island described to AP how the island now resembles an ash-covered moor.
There are about four villages on the island despite being declared a protected area by the state and permanent danger zone. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has recommended that villagers not be allowed to return.
The 1,020-foot (311-meter) Taal is one of the smallest volcanoes in the world, but also one of the 24 most restless active volcanoes in the Philippines. The Southeast Asian archipelago of more than 100 million people is located in the so-called “Ring of Fire” of the Pacific, a vast region in the ocean basin where most of the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions of the world occur.
0:54The video captures rare rare volcanoes that rise from the Philippines volcano
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