Flights to and from NAIA temporarily suspended due to Taal Volcano activity

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 12) — Over a hundred flights coming from and arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport have been suspended since Sunday after the Taal Volcano unexpectedly spewed ash and smoke.

In a media briefing Sunday evening the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Director General Capt. Jim Sydiongco said, "In the absence of precise or reliable information...ang ginagawa ng Air Traffic Service is magbigay agad ng advisory... Pagdating sa safety mnagement, ang una nating ginagawa hangga't hindi lahat ng data pumasok, is to suspend the operations. Once nasuspend yan and we have more time to assess kung ano ang problema, then we try to isolate and find ways kung paano mamanage yung levels of exposure."

[Translation: In the absence of precise or reliable information...what the Air Traffic Service does is to immediately give out an advisory... When it comes to safety management, what do first is until all data comes in, is to suspend operations. Once that has been done, and we have more time to assess the problem, then we try to isolate and find ways to manage the levels of exposure.]

MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal said that as of before 9 p.m., 172 flights have been canceled, and that NAIA operations would remain suspended until Monday. He has advised passengers not to proceed to the airport until further information has been released.

"From tonight until probably tomorrow morning, walang magagawang movements ngayon because of the danger and of course the safety of the aircraft that's coming in and out of the airport," he said.

Monreal added inspection revealed the presence of ash on the runway, adding it would have to be cleaned before operations resume.

READ: PHIVOLCS warns of ‘hazardous explosive eruption’ of Taal Volcano soon

A joint statement from the Department of Transportation (DOTr), MIAA, and CAAP said the suspension would remain "until further notice."

Ariel Carabeo from the Manila Area Control Center, said the predicted wind direction of the ash cloud from the volcano was northeast, adding these ash clouds can severely affect planes.

"Pag naingest yan ng makina, pwedeng tumigil yung makina, so hindi na makakalipad yung eroplano... Yung airborne equipment ng eroplano hindi po 'yan designed to detect ash clouds," he said.

[Translation: When that gets inside the engine, it could stop, so the plane won't be able to fly... The airborne equipment of the planes are not designed to detect ash clouds.]

He also said they have received reports from pilots saying they have seen ash clouds.

A joint assessment will be done by MIAA and CAAP early Monday morning.

This is a developing story. Please refresh page for updates.