Around 16,700 people have been evacuated so far after the Taal Volcano in the Philippines started spewing lava, while the ash fall reached the capital Manila, some 70 km away. The displaced people were taken to 45 evacuation centres authorized by the authorities in the most affected municipalities of San Nicolas, Balete, Talisay, Lipa (Batangas province) and Tagaytay (Cavite), according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
The regional civil defence spokesperson, Lexie Masiglat, told Efe news that the evacuation protocol was still ongoing, meaning that the number of evacuees was set to continue increasing over the next hours.
Meanwhile, people residing near the affected zones have been advised to wear an N95 rather than regular surgical marks during ash falls.
Here's why an N95 mask is advisable compared to a regular surgical mask
N95 masks are designed keeping in mind the facial structure and have an effective filtration system. According to US Food and Drug Administration, during ash falls, people should use N95 masks, not surgical masks.
N95 is a respiratory protective device designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of airborne particles. The 'N95' designation means that when subjected to careful testing, the respirator blocks at least 95 percent of very small (0.3 micron) test particles.
However, people can also resort to a wet towel or cloth in case one does not have N95 masks.
75 earthquakes in last 24 hours
In the last 24 hours, up to 75 earthquakes of volcanic origin have been recorded, 32 of them of noticeable intensity, including one of magnitude 3.8 during early Monday morning.
Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila and Clark International Airport (about 90 km north of the capital), partially resumed operations after having been shut down due to lack of visibility, leading to the cancellation of at least 109 international and 87 domestic flights that left thousands of passengers stranded.
Educational institutions and government offices in Manila and Calabarzon region, where the provinces of Batangas and Cavite - most affected by the eruption - are located, have been suspended.
The areas surrounding the volcano have been covered by a thick layer of ash and toxic smoke, prompting the health department to recommend against going outdoors or using masks and glasses if doing so.
The department also discouraged people from driving, as visibility is limited and the ground has become slippery because of ash.
(With inputs from IANS)