A volcano near the capital of the Philippines has spewed ash and lava into the sky for a third day, prompting fears of a bigger and more dangerous eruption to come.
Tens of thousands of people have fled villages darkened and blanketed by heavy ash after the activity at the Taal volcano in Batangas province, south of Manila.
Everyone living within 14 km of the volcano has now been ordered to leave - potentially as many as 300,000 people - but thousands more are refusing to leave or have already drifted back.
Local officials complained that many were complicating the evacuation effort by staying put.
"I had to put Talisay under lockdown to prevent residents, who were already in the evacuation centres from returning," said Gerry Natanauan, mayor of one town that is well within the danger zone of the 311m volcano on Tuesday.
"They wanted to check their homes, possessions and animals, but they're not supposed to do that because it is very dangerous."
Government work was suspended and schools were closed in a number of towns and cities, including Manila, because of the health risks over the ash.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled or delayed, affecting tens of thousands of passengers.
The continuous activity at Taal and several new fissures cracking the ground nearby likely means magma is rising and may lead to further eruptive activity, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said.
The volcano was spurting fountains of red-hot lava half a mile into the sky, with the massive column of ash and volcanic debris occasionally lighting up with streaks of lightning.
About 50 volcanic earthquakes were detected over eight hours on Tuesday, indicating rising magma, the institute said. It also warned heavy and prolonged ash fall was possible in nearby villages.
No casualties have been reported so far, and seismologists said there was a chance this eruption could subside, but the signs still point to an imminent explosion.
Australian Associated Press