Terrifying moment lightning shoots from the ground upwards during Philippines volcano eruption

14 January 2020, 19:17

By Kate Buck

This is the terrifying moment a lightning bolt shoots from the ground as a volcano erupts in the Philippines.

The Taal Volcano began erupting on Sunday, sending thousands of tons of smoke and ash into the sky.

Tens of thousands of people have fled villages surrounding the area, and schools have been closed due to the health risks of the smoke.

In the aftermath of the eruption, lightning has been seen blistering across much of the landscape.

This is due to the volcanic ash which allows a charge separation between the ground and the cloud of material being churned out of the volcano.

Hundreds of flights have been cancelled or delayed as a result of the eruption, affecting tens of thousands of passengers.

Rescuers search for surviving animals left behind by residents of the Taal Volcano Island
Rescuers search for surviving animals left behind by residents of the Taal Volcano Island. Picture: PA
It began to erupt on Sunday
It began to erupt on Sunday. Picture: PA

The continuous activity at Taal and several new fissures cracking the ground nearby likely means magma is rising and may lead to further eruptive activity, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said.

The volcano was spurting fountains of red-hot lava half a mile into the sky, with the massive column of ash and volcanic debris occasionally lighting up with streaks of lightning.

The alert level since the eruption began Sunday has been 4, indicating a hazardous eruption is possible in hours to days.

Level 5, the highest, means such an eruption is under way.

About 50 volcanic earthquakes were detected over eight hours on Tuesday, indicating rising magma, the institute said. It also warned heavy and prolonged ash fall was possible in nearby villages.

Much of the surrounding area has been evacuated
Much of the surrounding area has been evacuated. Picture: PA

The picturesque volcano in the middle of a lake rumbled to life on Sunday in a powerful explosion that blasted a nine-mile column of ash, steam and rock into the sky.

Clouds of volcanic ash blowing over Manila, 40 miles to the north, closed the country's main airport on Sunday and part of Monday until the ash fall eased.

More than 500 international and domestic flights were cancelled or delayed due to the overnight airport closure, affecting about 80,000 passengers.

The disaster response agency counted more than 40,000 evacuees in Batangas and nearby Cavite provinces who took shelter in nearly 200 evacuation centers. Officials expect that number to swell.

President Rodrigo Duterte plans to visit volcano-devastated areas in Batangas, which has been declared a calamity zone for faster disbursement of emergency funds.