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Philippines suspends Manila airport flights as volcano spews ash

MANILA: The Philippine airport authority yesterday suspended flights at Manila's international airport after a volcano in nearby Batangas province spewed a giant plume of ash.

The Taal volcano generated a 1km-high ash plume accompanied by rumbling sounds and tremors earlier in the day, indicating increased unrest that could lead to a hazardous eruption in the coming weeks.

"Flight operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport have been temporarily suspended due to the volcanic ash from the eruption of Taal Volcano," the Manila International Airport Authority tweeted.

Passengers were advised to coordinate with their respective airlines for flight schedules.

General manager Ed Monreal said the suspension would continue today because there was ash on the runway.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage in the areas surrounding the volcano, but the authorities scrambled to evacuate more than 8,000 villagers from an island in the middle of a lake where the volcano lies, officials said.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised its alert level to 4 out of 5 - meaning "hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days".

Phivolcs also warned of possible hazards of a volcanic tsunami and rapid currents of hot gas and volcanic matter that could hit areas around the Taal lake, a popular weekend getaway from Manila.

Local authorities cancelled school scheduled for today and urged people to stay indoors.

President Rodrigo Duterte has instructed the authorities to move people within the perimeter of Taal out of the danger zone, his spokesman said.

One of the world's smallest volcanoes, Taal is among two dozen active volcanoes in the Philippines, which lies along the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire". - REUTERS

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