At least five climbers are feared dead and dozen others trapped after one of the most active volcanoes of the Philippines erupted on Tuesday.
After remaining dormant for three years, Mayon Volcano which is located about 330 kilometres (200 miles) southeast of Manila began spewing rocks on Tuesday. A giant ash cloud can be seen from miles away following the eruption.
Eduardo del Rosario, chief of National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council told Agence France-Presse that local officials reported there were up to 20 climbers including foreigners and Filipino guides, when the volcano erupted.
"Five killed and seven are injured, that is the latest report," del Rosario told the news agency. "We do not have the identity of those killed or injured, whether they are foreigners or locals." He said a rescue team is on its way to the mountain to check on the reports.
A guide named Kenneth Jesalva told local television station ABS-CBN TV network that the climbers who died were struck by huge rocks spewed by the volcano.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, in an advisory, said the eruption was a "small phreatic event" that lasted for about 73 seconds. According to the institute, the volcano spewed ash 500 metres into the air. Renato Solidum, head of the institute, said there is no need for people to evacuate as the eruption was not uncommon in the region.
The Mayon volcano, known for its near perfect cone shape, has erupted at least 48 times in recorded history. In 1814, a deadly eruption occurred killing around 1,200 people and burying the town of Cagsawa deep in lava. The area is now a popular tourist spot in the Philippines.
The 2,460-metre-long volcano had last erupted in 2009, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate from nearby areas.