Authorities from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOLCS) have warned that lava and ash spewing from Taal volcano could last for weeks. The Institute has also recorded 212 quakes since Sunday caused by magma flow that could lead to more eruptions.

Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon warned people to avoid the area. He said, "Bring your animals and livestock to evacuation centers if you must” and added that his group was "preparing for the worst.”

Photos posted on social media and news outlets have shown a stunning, yet frightening display with steam and ash forming dark clouds that are lit up with bolts of lightning. Magma coughed up from the crater to an altitude of half a mile has been observed.  

PHILVOLCS’ chief Renato Solidum said the ongoing ash eruptions continue to trigger volcanic earthquakes. He told CNN Philippines reporters, "As we speak, there are still earthquake events, so we expect more activities in the next few days." On Sunday the increased number and intensity of volcanic tremors prompted PHILVOLCS to raise the Alert level to 4 or "Intense Unrest,” according to Solidum.

He added, "The danger from the earthquake events would be possible landslides on steep slopes like those on the caldera wall beneath Tagaytay Ridge. Houses with a thick cover of ash might be affected by shaking as (the) roof is heavier.”

Most affected are those living around the mountain located south of Manila. The rush to evacuate caused many people to abandon livestock, pets and homes full of belongings after authorities sounded an alert warning that an "explosive eruption" could come at any time.

One typical victim is 47-year-old Robert Cadiz, a fisherman and one of the estimated 30,000 forced to leave the danger zone for shelters in safe areas. He said, "We left everything apart from what we're wearing. We were terrified."

Another is Gerald Aseoche, age 30, and the father of four young children. Like most of the evacuees, he has little material wealth. He works as a house painter but left his house and job to stay with his children in the shelter. "I am hoping this won't go on too long because I will lose my job if I can't report to work immediately," Aseoche told AFP at an evacuation center.

Villagers living near Taal volcano in the Philippines rescue horses and other animals, transporting them via boats as fears of a massive eruption looms. Villagers living near Taal volcano in the Philippines rescue horses and other animals, transporting them via boats as fears of a massive eruption looms. Photo: AFPTV / Ron LOPEZ

PHILVOLCS’ chief Solidum said Taal's previous eruptions have lasted as long as months making it impossible to predict an end to the current activity. The possibility of a potentially catastrophic "explosive eruption" could remain in place for weeks, depending on developments.

"We have a protocol of waiting for several days, sometimes two weeks, to make sure that indeed, volcano activity has essentially stopped," he told AFP.