A COLOSSAL volcanic eruption wasn’t enough to put off one happy couple as they tied the knot in front of the giant dust cloud.
Taal volcano in the Philippines lurched into life yesterday after months spent dormant, spewing lava and hot ash into the sky.
Stunning images show volcanic lightning illuminating the cloud, as thousands were forced to flee.
But the terrifying display didn’t discourage Kat Valfour and her husband Chino from enjoying their big day.
The happy couple proudly posed in front of the ash cloud last night after getting married in an outdoor wedding just six miles from the volcano.
Wedding photographer Randolf Evan told CNN: “We were actually nervous because while working we kept on checking social media for updates on the volcanic eruption.
“So we were actually aware of the warnings and escalating levels that was being announced real time.
“We also discussed discreetly among ourselves what we should do when worst comes to worst.”
The eruption sparked a mass evacuation, with more than 13,000 so far moved to evacuation centres in the provinces of Batangas and Cavite.
And hundreds of thousands more could be forced to run for their lives after experts warned the eruption could get worse.
Clouds of ash reached the country’s bustling capital Manila, just 62 miles to the north, forcing the shutdown of the country's main airport, with more than 500 flights cancelled so far.
There have been no reports of casualties or major damage up to now from the eruption, which began Sunday.
But experts have warned Taal could turn “explosive” and blow at any time.
Some locals could not move out of ash-blanketed villages due to a lack of transport and poor visibility, while others refused to leave their homes and farms.
Mayor Wilson Maralit of Balete town told DZMM radio: “We have a problem, our people are panicking due to the volcano because they want to save their livelihood, their pigs and herds of cows.
“We’re trying to stop them from returning and warning that the volcano can explode again any time and hit them.”
Maralit, whose town lies along the shoreline of Taal Lake surrounding the erupting volcano, appealed for troops and additional police to be deployed to stop distraught residents from sneaking back into their high-risk villages.
Local resident Irene de Claro said she was worried about her dad, who stayed behind in the village of Agoncillo.
She said: “My father is missing.
“We don’t know too what happened to our house because the ash was up to our knees, it was very dark and the ground was constantly shaking when we left.
“Most likely there’s nothing for us to return to. Were back to zero.”
Several planes stranded at Manila's airport may be allowed to take off once they are cleaned of ash and authorities are sure an easterly shift in ash-laden wind away from the capital would not revert, airport general Ed Monreal told a news conference.
The airport cannot accommodate incoming flights until stranded aircraft fly out and free up parking bays, he said.
Taal had been restive for months until it suddenly rumbled back to life Sunday, blasting steam, ash and pebbles up to nine miles into the sky, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.
What is volcanic lightning and why does it occur?
The exact cause of volcanic lightning – which typically occurs at the start of an eruption – long has been debated among scientists, as the phenomenon is more difficult to study than the lightning that’s associated with thunderstorms.
In 2016, however, researchers determined volcanic lightning may be a result of both volcanic ash and ice.
“One cause is static electricity from particles rubbing together in dense ash clouds near the ground.
The other source of lightning happens near the stratosphere, high above the Earth's surface, where jockeying ice crystals unleash powerful jolts,” reports Live Science.
The earliest recorded observations of volcanic lightning are from Pliny the Younger, describing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
"There was a most intense darkness rendered more appalling by the fitful gleam of torches at intervals obscured by the transient blaze of lightning," he wrote.
The first scientific studies of volcanic lightning were also conducted at Mount Vesuvius by Professor Palmieri who observed the eruptions of 1858, 1861, 1868, and 1872 from the Vesuvius Observatory.
The lava spurting from the volcano's vents today was falling into the lake surrounding the crater.
The government volcano-monitoring agency raised the danger level around Taal three notches to Level 4 – indicating an imminent hazardous eruption.
Level 5, the highest, means a hazardous eruption is underway and could affect a larger area with high-risk zones that would need to be cleared of people, said Renato Solidum, who heads the institute.
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