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A volcano near the Philippine capital that draws many tourists for its picturesque setting belched steam, ash and rocks in a huge plume today, prompting thousands of residents to flee and officials to temporarily suspend flights.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said Taal Volcano in the Batangas province south of Manila blasted steam and ash up to one kilometer (about half a mile) into the sky in a dramatic escalation of its growing restiveness, which began last year.
Reports - Injuries - Damage - Authorities - Villagers
There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage but authorities scrambled to evacuate more than 6,000 villagers from an island in the middle of a lake, where the volcano lies, officials said.
'We have asked people in high-risk areas, including the volcano island, to evacuate now ahead of a possible hazardous eruption,' Renato Solidum, who heads the institute, said.
Renelyn - Bautista - Housewife - Batangas - Province
Renelyn Bautista, a 38-year-old housewife from Batangas province's Laurel town, said she immediately fled from her home with her two children, including a four-month-old baby, after Taal erupted and the ground shook mildly twice.
'We hurriedly evacuated when the air turned muddy because of the ashfall and it started to smell like gunpowder,' Bautista said.
Dozens - Flights - Hold - Hours - Sunday
Dozens of international and domestic flights were put on hold for at least four hours Sunday night at Manila's international airport 'due to volcanic ash in the vicinity of the airport' and nearby air routes, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said.
Taal lies more than 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Manila.
Volcanology - Institute - Danger - Level - Taal
The volcanology institute raised the danger level around Taal two notches on Sunday to level 3, indicating 'magmatic intrusion that...
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