Philippine volcano belches dark plume, villagers evacuated

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A small volcano near the Philippine capital has belched a dark plume of steam and ash into the sky in a brief explosion. The steam-driven blast prompted the evacuation of thousands of people nearby. Government experts say magmatic materials came into contact with water in the main crater of Taal Volcano. They say it’s too early to know if the unrest could lead to a full-blown eruption. Officials reminded people to stay away from a small island in a scenic lake where Taal is located and is considered a permanent danger zone along with a number of nearby lakeside villages. Taal erupted in January last year, sending ash toward Manila and briefly closing its airport.