30,000 flee lava, ash in Philippines

Lava 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 volcanic ash.

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.

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.

“Remember Pinatubo, the entire mountain collapsed during the eruption,” Lorenzano said. “That’s what we are fearing, that the eruption would cause the entire island to rise and scatter debris on the nearby areas.

Taal started acting up Sunday, spewing enough ash, steam and even smaller rocks nearly 10 miles into the air. The airborne debris forced the airport in Manila, 65 miles away, to shut down for several hours. Authorities warned that the airport could again be closed if conditions worsen.

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