Scientists in the Philippines warned Sunday that a volcano could erupt south of Manila again “anytime soon”. The toxic gas emissions reached a record high, and thousands more people fled their homes.

The Taal volcano sits in a beautiful lake and has been emitting sulphur dioxide since the last week. This has caused a cloud to form over Manila and other surrounding provinces and raised health concerns.

According to the provincial disaster agency, nearly 4,500 people fled their homes after authorities ordered evacuations of high-risk zones along the lake’s shores.

Some settlements were temporarily locked down to prevent residents from returning home.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology stated in a statement that an eruption similar to the one of July 2021 could occur soon.

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A few smaller eruptions were then followed. The seismological agency was prompted to increase the alert level from 2 to 3.

In January 2020, the last eruption was 15 km high. It spewed red-hot volcanic lava and destroyed scores of homes and livestock, and sent over 135,000 people to shelters.

Taal is one of many active volcanoes in a country hit frequently by earthquakes and eruptions. This is due to its position on the Pacific Ring of Fire — a zone of intense seismic activity.