CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – A man drowned at the crater-lake of Mt. Pinatubo in Capas, Tarlac on Wednesday, police confirmed on Thursday night.
The victim was Roselito Julao, 44 and a resident of 606 Rizat Sreet in Barangay (village) San Joaquin, Mabalacat, south of Capas, according to Senior Superintendent Alfred Corpus, Tarlac provincial director.
Julao is considered the first drowning victim at the crater.
The 1991 and 1992 eruptions of the volcano left a 2.7-kilometer wide and about 100-deep crater, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said.
Rainwaters have filled the crater, turning it into a lake, prompting the Department of Public Works and Highways to breach it in August 2001 to avoid the collapse of the rim and prevent lahar avalanches to the Botolan town in Zambales.
Between 1995, when treks to the volcano began, and last year, five foreigners and two Filipino hikers had drowned at the O’ Donnel River and Pasig-Potrero River that both drained from the volcano’s watersheds.
Corpus said Orlando Herrera, a local guide, reported that Julao and his companions reached Barangay Sta. Juliana, the takeoff point of the trek at 6:30 a.m.
“That upon reaching the area, the victim suddenly swam on its crater despite the presence of a warning sign prohibiting swimming,” a report to Corpus said.
Herrera said he advised Julao not to swim but that his warning was disregarded.
Marissa Vidal, Capas tourism officer, said the local government would issue a statement on Friday on queries on public safety.