The violent eruption of the Taal volcano in the Philippines on Monday left pictures of a barren landscape full of destroyed houses, a thick layer of ash and buried animal carcasses.
The nation’s disaster relief team said at least 30,000 people fled their homes on Monday, surrounding the country’s second most active volcano. However, some have decided to go back to take care of or save their animals.
In one photo, a man in a mask carries a dog to safety and cradles him like a baby as he walks down the ash-covered street. In other photos, residents lead scared cattle to boats that float on blackened water.
According to the country’s Department of Agriculture, the continuing eruption has damaged an estimated $ 10 million in crops and animals, although no deaths have been reported.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alert level to four out of five and warned that another dangerous eruption could occur at any time. Nevertheless, the residents have for years opposed the agency’s warnings and violated the laws against the construction of houses in permanent danger zones on the island.
The area was protected as a state and later designated as a national park, which means that it should not be accessible to permanent settlers. However, this was never enforced and the volcano’s destructive explosions have proven fatal in the past, killing more than 200 people in 1965.
Filipino Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana warned that Taal’s worst-case scenario could be compared to the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, 90 miles north, which killed 800 people and left 200,000 homeless in 1991.
“We can never predict the action of this volcano,” he said.
Taal is one of two dozen active volcanoes in the Philippines. The country is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, a seismically active region prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Contributors: John Bacon, USA TODAY; Associated press. Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.
This article originally appeared in USA TODAY: Philippines: Taal volcanic eruption evacuated to rescue dogs and horses