An Aberdeen man fears he could be stranded in the Philippines for weeks following the eruption of a volcano.
Kai Stokes Giggie, from Bucksburn, was visiting family in San Jose (Nueva Ecija) when the Taal volcano sent up a huge plume of ash and rocks half a mile into the air, triggering a level 4 warning.
The danger level indicates that “a hazardous eruption within hours to days was possible”.
Clouds of ash soon reached the Philippines capital, Manila, forcing the shutdown of the country’s main airport with more than 500 flights cancelled so far.
Kai, who was due to return home two days ago, told the Evening Express it could be weeks before he lands back on home soil due to the large volume of travellers stranded at Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
The 20-year-old added: “All flights were cancelled again yesterday and we’ve been told we could be here for weeks.
“The hotels are all fully booked because there are so many people stranded.
“The airport is absolutely jam-packed. The atmosphere is mixed – there are people who are laughing it off but there is also a lot of frustration because people just want to go home.
“I was angry at first but it can’t be helped.
“It’s really difficult trying to communicate with the authorities though, we’re having to use Google Translate on our phones to speak to them.”
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After a clean-up and ash-laden winds shifted away from Manila, officials partially reopened the main airport and allowed stranded planes to take off yesterday.
However, airport manager Ed Monreal stressed that while incoming flights can be accommodated once parking bays are freed up, the airport may be closed again if the danger returns.
Frequent tremors and inflation of the 1,020ft volcano, one of the world’s smallest, indicate a major and much more dangerous eruption could still happen.
Red-hot lava has gushed out of a volcano near the Philippine capital as tens of thousands of people fled the area.
There have been no reports of casualties or major damage so far.
A truck, however, skidded out of control and fell on its side on an ash-blanketed road, killing the driver and injuring three companions in southern Laguna province, in an accident police said was linked to the slippery road conditions.
The government’s disaster response agency and other officials reported more than 30,000 villagers have fled their homes in the hard-hit province of Batangas and nearby Cavite province, but officials expect the number to swell with hundreds of thousands more moving out of harm’s way.
Some residents could not move out of ash-blanketed villages immediately due to a lack of transport and poor visibility.
Kai added: “The ash is horrendous. I saw a British traveller get taken away in an ambulance from the airport because he had collapsed.”
Maryann Hurboda Ferieara, from Tillydrone, was due to return to the UK on the same flight as Kai.
She said: “I came over to visit my family in Cavite. It was a great holiday but it ended in a nightmare.
“The airport is absolutely packed with people all squashed together. I managed to get a hotel on Sunday night but we were stuck in a standby queue on Monday. I’m very tired and I just want to go home.”
The 47-year-old added: “It could be two weeks until we get home, we’ll just have to wait for the sky to clear.”
The volcano’s last disastrous explosion occurred in 1965, when more than 200 people were killed.
Taal had been restive for months until it suddenly rumbled back to life on Sunday, blasting steam, ash and pebbles up to 10 to 15 kilometres into the sky, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.
The ash and steam column reached a height of only two kilometres yesterday, with lava fountains spurting less than half of that height before falling into lake waters surrounding the main crater.