HANOI: Taal volcano, 90 kilometres to the south of Manila, spewed lava into the air and spread ash across the Philippines, forcing villagers to flee and shut down the capital’s international airports, offices and schools.

VNA reported that clouds of ash drifted more than 100 kilometres north of the Taal volcano — reaching the bustling capital, Manila, and forcing the shutdown of the country’s main airport with more than 500 flights cancelled on Jan 12.

More than 24,000 people have been evacuated from the volcanic island and the area immediately around it, normally a popular tourist spot.

To the southwest of the volcano, the towns of Agoncillo and Lemery were coated by a thick layer of ash, making roads impassable.

Agoncillo mayor Daniel Reyes said some homes and part of a building had collapsed under the weight of the fallen ash.

In nearby Talisay Batangas, the rain had turned ash to mud and trucks were needed to evacuate more people from remote communities.

Taal volcano spewed ash 1,000 metres into the sky on Jan 12. Authorities said several earthquakes of magnitudes 1-3 were felt in nearby villages.

One of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines, Taal has erupted more than 30 times in the past five centuries, most recently in 1977. An eruption in 1911 killed 1,500 people and one in 1754 lasted for a few months.

The island has been showing signs of restiveness since early last year.

The Philippines lies on the “Ring of Fire,” a belt of volcanoes circling the Pacific Ocean that is also prone to earthquakes. – Bernama