AP PHOTOS: Only ash and shells of homes left on volcano isle


TAAL VOLCANO, Philippines (AP) – The island is a ghost town, its trees are just dead sticks in a gray landscape, its houses and school covered in ash and damaged by continuous earthquakes and volcanic eruption explosive that occurred a year ago.

Fisherman Rogelito Cacao regularly visits his home on the volcanic island south of the Philippine capital. “I miss our things but they are now covered with ash, our cattle like our cow, our horse, our pig, our boat and our engines are all covered by the volcano, that’s what I miss.

Luisa Silva lived at the foot of Taal Volcano and said life would never be the same again. “At the moment, life is very hard, we are not used to it. This is where we went through things that we had never experienced before, we don’t know where to start, ”she says.

Silva wants to return to the island if the government allows it. She said they can grow vegetables and raise livestock at home on the island, which saves them from having to buy food. Their animals also transported tourists to see the picturesque crater.

A popular tourist destination located in the middle of a lake, Taal erupted on January 12, 2020.

More than 5,000 people, many working as tour guides, fled the small island as the ground shook and the volcano spewed dark gray ash and steam into the sky. Hundreds of horses, cows and other animals have been abandoned.

The eruption caused an early crisis in what was to become a difficult year in one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries. A few months after the volcano sent more than 376,000 people to flee, the COVID-19 pandemic struck the country.

Many evacuees stayed for some time in state-run emergency shelters, then returned to ash-covered towns in Batangas province as dangers diminished.

But the volcanic island of Lake Taal is too dangerous, and the government forbids former residents from returning.

Some have found alternative accommodation, but around 50 families are still living in tents a year after the eruption and doing odd jobs. Calauit village chief Jimmy Tenorio said the rest of the families living in tents would be relocated soon.

Meanwhile, Taal is still rumbling, with small earthquakes and faint plumes of steam rising from the crater on Monday.

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