Mt. Pinatubo crater lake 'not fit for swimming'

·Kim Arveen Patria
The majestic Mt. Pinatubo crater lake. (Photo courtesy of Joanna Frialde)

Tourists climbing Mt. Pinatubo in Zambales may marvel at the volcano's crater lake, but the waters are not fit for swimming and other activities due to harmful substances, the government said.

"[T]he Pinatubo crater lake water... may affect the human health in various ways and may become fatal over an extended period of time," the Department of Tourism (DoT) said in a travel advisory Jan. 4.

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The warning was issued following the death of a 44-year-old overseas Filipino worker Roselito Julao, who dove into  a deep section of the crater lake Jan. 2, a report from the Philippine Information Agency said.

Reports further said that the diver did now drown and was not found to be drunk.

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Citing a report from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, DoT said "hazardous substances" have been found in the lake water include arsenic, aluminum, boron, chloride, iron, manganese, sulphate and total solids.

DoT therefore warned tourists not to treat the crater lake "like a resort playground for swimming, kayaking or aqua cycling."

"[T]he serene yet crystal blue lake thereat is meant to be a glorious and majestic vista to behold only to be charmed by its natural beauty..." the advisory noted.

Aside from risks due to harmful substances in the lake water, Mt. Pinatubo visitors have also been told "never to stay close to the lakeshore."

This, as DoT noted potential threats due to frequent incidents of rock falls or landslides especially during heavy rains.

Hikers have also been advised to rest awhile after the "physically stressful two-hour trek."

DoT meanwhile stressed that "any development in the area should be low-impact, provide economic benefits, promote environmental, protection, provide education to tourists, and encourage the full participation of the local communities."

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