Ash continues to blanket the Philippines as of press time, including in the capital city of Manila, about 62 miles north of the volcano. Flights have been cancelled, schools and other public institutions have closed, and tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from both the volcanic isle within Lake Taal and from the vast shorelines around it. So far, no casualties have been reported, and there is a chance this eruption could fizzle out. Still, many people likely remain in high-risk zones, and “the biggest bang is not always at the beginning of an eruption,” says Jenni Barclay, a volcanologist at the University of East Anglia. “On a timescale much longer than the threat of a hurricane, something else could happen that’s even bigger.” Past eruptions at Taal demonstrate that this volcano has a profoundly lethal capability, claiming thousands of lives throughout recorded history. If the latest event does become more explosive—a possibility that has scientists deeply concerned—it could yield a surfeit of volcanic hazards, from rocky debris bouncing across the lake to overwhelming tsunamis. “This is definitely a volcano to be taken seriously,” says Beth Bartel, an outreach specialist at UNAVCO, a geoscientific consortium of universities and scientific institutions.
A magnitude 5.9 shock hit Puerto Rico on Saturday morning as the island's residents were already reeling from a series of major quakes this week, including one on Tuesday that was the biggest in a century. The latest quake, which came around 9 a.m. local time, has caused even further damage, mainly in areas around the southern coast where hundreds of homes and schools had already collapsed from the Tuesday temblor that had a magnitude of 6.4. Saturday's quake, which was initially calculated at magnitude 6.0, also left roughly 59,000 customers without power, according to the island's power authority. Witnesses said the temblor caused concrete debris from damaged buildings to topple into the streets, mainly around the southern area.