"A dangerous eruption is possible in the hours or days to come," warned the national seismological agency.

A huge ash cloud rose Sunday over the Philippine Taal volcano, near Manila, causing thousands of evacuations and the cancellation of flights at the capital's airport for fear of an imminent eruption.

Government service seismologists have detected magma rising towards the crater while tremors were felt near the volcano, the top of which was lit by lightning.

Following this so-called "phreatic" eruption, a significant explosive eruption could occur "within a few days or weeks" if this activity continues, said Renato Solidum, head of the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology in the Philippines. Flights to and from Manila Ninoy Aquino Airport were canceled after the ash cloud reached 1.5 km. The region went on alert 4 for "risk of imminent dangerous eruption".

The Ring of Fire

More than 2,000 residents living on the island where the Taal is located, in the middle of a lake, have been evacuated as a safety measure, local authorities said. Residents of a neighboring island could also be evacuated if the situation worsens. “The ashes have already reached Manila. It's dangerous if people 'inhale,' said Renato Solidum.

The last eruption of Taal dates from 1977.

The Philippine archipelago is located on the Pacific “belt of fire”, where the tectonic plates collide, causing earthquakes and regular volcanic activity.

Boby Dean for DayNewsWorld