ANGELES CITY- Tourist-luring Mt. Pinatubo can still be deadly, rain or shine.
A member of a television crew from Hong Kong was reported to be the latest victim of heat stroke at the sizzling summit of Mt. Pinatubo here the other day, two weeks after a Canadian tourist died from the same ailment upon reaching the volcano’s crater-lake.
The latest victim was identified as So Ka Ming, 39, a cameraman of Travel Living Channel of Hong Kong.
Regional director Ronnie Tiotuico of the Department of Tourism (DOT) said yesterday that unlike the Canadian tourist, Ming survived after he was rushed down from the volcanic summit and brought to a hospital in this city.
Tiotuico did not have more details about the incident, but added the Hong Kong television crew was guest of the DOT. The team was apparently to do a feature of Mt. Pinatubo as a tourist attraction.
The heat on the slopes of Mt. Pinatubo in recent weeks had been described as “unusual” by tourists who have been there.
Tiotuico also confirmed that two weeks ago, a male Canadian tourist died of heat stroke upon reaching the summit of Mt. Pinatubo.
He said that tourism activities on Mt. Pinatubo were placed under the jurisdiction of the Capas, Tarlac municipal government since 2004, as the main and safest take-off point for a climb to its summit is located in Barangay Sta. Juliana in the town. A Korean firm in the area was authorized by the local government to operate a facility for tourists who want to reach the volcanic summit.
“I was told by the Capas tourism officer that the local guides for the tourists have first aid kits,” he said.
This, even as Tiotuico reiterated that the ban on swimming in the crater-lake has remained in effect, amid studies indicating toxic elements in the waters.
Last January, Roselito Julao, 44, a vacationing balikbayan from England, died mysteriously after he jumped into the crater-lake. This prompted the DOT to again issue a warning against swimming in the lake, citing studies by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) that its waters contained arsenic, aluminum, boron, chloride, iron, manganese, sulfate and total solids that “may affect human health in various ways and may become fatal over an extended period of time.”
The DOT also warned that the Pinatubo summit, which has become a major tourist attraction, should “never be treated like a resort playground for swimming, kayaking or aqua cycling.”
Tiotuico has also voiced objections to the Capas tourism council’s allowing tourists to trek to Mt. Pinatubo’s summit during the rainy season.
In August 2009 amid sunny morning weather, three foreigners and two of their Filipino guides were killed after they were washed off by volcanic flows by heavy rains on the slopes in the afternoon. The trek was initially cleared by a Korean firm providing guides to trekkers.
Mt. Pinatubo’s 2.5-kilometer wide summit crater-lake, reputed to be the deepest lake in the country at 800 meters deep, was formed after its historic eruption in 1991. After the threat of lahar flows on the volcano’s slopes subsided, the summit became a major tourist attraction.
From Barangay Sta. Juliana, tourists normally hire four-wheeled vehicles for a ride upward on the slopes for one and a half hours, followed by a trek to the crater-lake itself for another hour.