Katie Rauschl and her friend Nawa Dolker were driving to Manila when they noticed "dirty raindrops" falling from the sky
A San Diego woman and her friends came extremely close to danger this week after they just narrowly missed being on Taal Volcano when it erupted in the Philippines.
Katie Rauschl never expected that her vacation to the Philippines would be interrupted by a volcano that hadn’t been active for more than 40 years, according to NBC affiliate KNSD.
The San Diego nurse told the local outlet that she had only been on her trip for two days when she and her friends went on a hike at Taal Volcano, which is located on an island in the middle of Crater Lake and requires a boat to reach the popular tourist spot.
After boarding the motorized outrigger, the group arrived on the island and embarked on the two-mile path to the volcano’s summit — all the while documenting their adventures in several videos obtained by KNSD.
“[We] see some steam coming out of the vents and a little bubbling towards the side… and that was considered normal,” Rauschl told the outlet.
“No more activity than usual,” Rauschl added. “So no one expected anything.”
It wasn’t until the group was on their way to Manila, about an hour after they had left Taal Volcano, that they started to notice something was wrong.
“We started hearing rumbling,” Nawa Dolker, who was traveling with Rauschl, told the outlet. “[Then] started seeing raindrops and we noticed the raindrops were very, very dirty.”
Not long after, the friends looked back to find an unbelievable sight: the same volcano they had just hiked 60 minutes ago was now sending clouds of smoke into the sky.
Later that evening, more than 30,000 residents were forced to evacuate their homes and properties, as lava and ash blanketed the ground in the nearby villages and surrounding areas.
The eruption also shut down the Manila International Airport, located just 50 miles away, where Rauschl and her friends were headed. Aside from getting stuck in a great deal of traffic on the way, the group finally arrived safely in Manila, KNSD reported.
As of Monday, they were waiting in the capital city until flights were no longer suspended so they could resume their vacation. Rauschl is expected to return to the United States in a week-and-a-half after hoping to finish her vacation.
A spokesperson for the airport said in a press release that 360 flights were able to take off between the hours of 10 a.m. on Jan. 13 to 7 a.m. on Jan. 14. The MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal suspended flights later on Tuesday to allow for daily maintenance of the runways, which includes derubberizing and degreasing.
An alert Level 4 was still in effect as of Tuesday, meaning that “hazardous explosive eruption is still possible within hours to days,” according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. The institute also warned people in areas around the volcano to be on the lookout for heavy and prolonged ashfall.
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Though the friends were uncertain when they’d be able to continue their travels, they told KNSD they were simply happy to be alive and feeling fortunate that they have somewhere to return home to, unlike many of the locals.
“We’re worried about all the people on the island, where they got to go,” Rauschl said. “I mean, it’s their whole livelihood that’s just been taken away at this point.”