Volcanic ash causes flight suspensions in Manila

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January 13, 2020
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Volcanic ash spews out of Taal volcano. Photo: Exec8/Wikicommons Media.

Flights were suspended to Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport Sunday night as a volcanic eruption south of the city sent an ash plume up to nine miles (14kms) into the air.

Airlines canceled hundreds of international and domestic flights Monday as a result of the eruption at Mt Taal but tweets by Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific suggested authorities were looking at a resumption of service during the day.

Cebu said it was conducting safety checks of its aircraft before resuming operations from 11 am local time.

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PAL also suggested the suspension could be lifted but said it was working in close coordination with airport and aviation authorities monitoring the ash cloud situation in case there was a need to extend the closure.

“Should the closure be extended, we may have to cancel or delay additional flights to or from Manila,’’ it added.

Flightradar24 tweeted early afternoon Philippines time that flights were operating as the cloud moved away from the airport.

However, it said there was still “a high level of flight disruption and a reduced operating schedule with nearly 400 flights canceled today”.

Taal Volcano, about 37 miles south of Manila on the island of Luzon, is one of the country’s most active and its eruption Sunday prompted the evacuation of three towns.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said in an 8 am bulletin that the volcano had “entered a period of intense unrest”  beginning with steam-driven activity in several points inside the main crater on January 12.

It said a level 4 alert remained in effect for the volcano and a hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.

The center recommended the evacuation of Taal Volcano Island “and areas at high risk to pyroclastic density currents and volcanic tsunami within a 14-kilometer radius from Taal’s main crater.

“ Areas in the general north of Taal Volcano are advised to guard against the effects of heavy and prolonged ashfall,’’ it said.

“Civil aviation authorities must advise aircraft to avoid the airspace around Taal Volcano as airborne ash and ballistic fragments from the eruption column pose hazards to aircraft. “