TALISAY: At the crack of dawn, Manolito Malaluan set out with a band of rescuers to ferry to safety two horses trapped on a Philippine island where a volcano has been spewing ash for days.
They took a motorboat across a lake yesterday, defying warnings to stay out of a danger zone around the Taal volcano, one of the most active in the South-East Asian nation, as they scrambled to reach the animals.
“Both of them were neighing when they saw me, ” Malaluan, 23, said, after reaching safer ground with his horses.
“They were happy because I came back.”
More than 57,000 people have abandoned homes on the volcanic island and its environs, usually thronged by tourists, but many have gone back to check on animals and possessions.
Authorities have thrown a 14km exclusion zone around the volcano, with experts warning that an eruption could bring a devastating rain of rocks and magma and unleash a tsunami in the surrounding lake.
The horses were among 3,000 living on the island, most earning money for their owners by carrying tourists to the rim of the volcano crater.
Many islanders depend on the survival of the animals, but the future now looks uncertain. — Reuters