30,000 flee lava, ash in Philippines

Lava, ash, thunder and lightning spewed from the Taal volcano in Philippines on Monday, darkening skies as thousands of nearby residents fled the region along roads choked by cars and ominous darkness.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology warned that a “hazardous explosive eruption” was possible within hours to days.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s ordered families in the affected communities to evacuate to safer ground, a process made difficult by the poor visibility and, for many, a lack of transportation. Hundreds of thousands of people may ultimately flee the region, officials said.

“Taal Volcano entered a period of intense unrest,” the volcano institute said in a statement. “This magmatic eruption is characterized by weak lava fountaining accompanied by thunder and flashes of lightning.”

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana warned that the “worst-case scenario” for Taal would be the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo, 90 miles to the north, that killed 800 people and rendered 200,000 homeless.

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